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Tuesday, June 03, 2003

US Labour Market 'In Transition'

By way of introduction to my next post, Brad links to a piece from Briefing.Com on the US job situation:

The labor market remains in transition and showed very clear signs of severe weakening in Feb/Mar. A heavy hit to Q4 was followed by volatiliity and a sharp downward turn in early 2003. The news from manufacturing hit another rough spot as the string of declines has stretched to 33 months and sums to 2.3 mln fewer workers. Private service sector payrolls have shown declines in 5 of the last 7 months. Military reservists have added to the confusion given the BLS inability to measure the payroll effect. Announced layoffs, business cost cutting and the economic recession have pummeling the payroll data as the removal of military reservists add another downward force in 2003. The monthly movement is volatile due partly to corporate spending restraints and strong labor productivity. The lagging unemployment rate will continue to follow a path higher even as payrolls return to growth. Hourly earnings are running at a 3% pace as compensation costs are of lesser concern given weak unit labor costs (compensation offset by productivity gains). The workweek is a key indicator of labor demand and a leading indicator of payroll growth but has only been holding in a range rather than lengthening...
Source: Briefing.Com

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