Slow and steady may win the race but the pace of job creation by the US economy continues to move along at turtle speed. For the 20 million unemployed and underemployed people the pace of job creation remains painfully slow as revealed by ADP 's National Employment Report for October. During the month, private sector employment increased by 43,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. ADP also revised its employment report for September stating that the economy lost only 2,000 jobs rather then the 39,000 it had previously reported. After an upward revision of 37,000 less jobs lost during September, during the past 60 days the private sector has produced 41,000 new jobs. For the worlds leading economy with a GDP of almost $15 trillion the lackluster growth in job creation is a troubling indicator of an anemic jobless economic recovery.
The October report arrests the September decline in job growth that reversed seven consecutive months of positive job creation. During that time the economy averaged employment gains of 34,000 new private sector jobs per month. This rate of job creation does little to reduce the negative overhang a 10% unemployment rate is having on economic growth. A stabilized and expanding labor market is a key ingredient for a sustained economic recovery. Over the past three years the economy lost over 9 million jobs. For a robust recovery to occur the economy needs to create 200,000 jobs per month for the next four years to return the job market to its pre-recession levels.
As we reported last month the expiration of the Federal stimulus program will force state and local governments to layoff workers. Sluggish job creation continues to pressure depleted unemployment funds and the expiration of benefits for many of the unemployed is draining buying power from the economy.
Soft consumer demand threatens retailers and leisure industry segments and has a spillover effect on the housing market. Joblessness is a principal factor in mortgage defaults and contributes to the growing inventory of foreclosed properties held by banks. The ADP report indicates that during October the US economy shed an additional 23,000 construction jobs. It is estimated that it will take 24 months for the housing market to absorb the existing inventory of foreclosed properties. A healthy turnaround in the construction industry will move in step with the improvement in the housing market conditions.
A sustained recovery will require sector leadership by Small and Mid-Size Enterprises (SME) as principal drivers of job creation. SME's sector strength has traditionally been in the construction, specialty retail, leisure and service sectors. Among these segments only the services sector continues to be a consistent driver for job creation.
The principal macroeconomic factors impairing recovery are the continued high unemployment rate, weakness in the housing market, tax policy and deepening fiscal crisis of state, local and federal governments. The results of this weeks mid-term election and the return of congress to Republican control will encourage the federal government to pursue fiscally conservative policies that will dramatically cut spending and taxes for the small businesses and the middle class. In the short term spending cuts in federal programs will result in layoffs and cuts in entitlement programs will remove purchasing power from the demand side of the market. It is believed that the tax cuts to businesses will provide the necessary incentive for SME's to invest capital surpluses back into the company to stimulate job creation.
Highlights of the ADP Report for October include:
Private sector employment increased by 43,000
Employment in the service-providing sector rose 77,000
Employment in the goods-producing sector declined 34,000
Employment in the manufacturing sector declined 12,000
Construction employment declined 23,000
Large businesses with 500 or more workers declined 2,000
Medium-size businesses, defined as those with between 50 and 499 workers increased 24,000
Employment among small-size businesses with fewer than 50 workers, increased 21,000
Overview of Numbers
The 45,000 jobs created by the SME sectors reverses a decline from September and offsets the 2,000 job cuts by large companies. The strong growth of service sector jobs is a positive development. However the continued softness of goods producing segments and manufacturing continues to indicate the continued decline of US industrial capacity. The strong rebound in services may be the result of the expanding practice of companies utilizing outside contractors to fill human capital requirements. These types of jobs may mask an underemployed and transient labor pool forced to accept work at lower wage scales.
The stock market continues to perform well. Yesterdays announcement by the Fed to pump $600 billion into the banking system may allay bankers credit risk concerns and ease lending restrictions to capital starved SME's. Despite a projected GDP growth rate of 2%, ADP's employment figures indicates that the economy continues to dwell at the bottom of an extreme down economic cycle. The danger of a double dip recession still lurks as a possibility but is becoming more of a remote possibility. Interest rates remain at historic lows and inflation continues to be benign but its danger grows as a weak dollar continues to flounder forcing oil prices to climb while government debt levels continue to spiral upward. The balance sheets of large corporate entities remain flush with cash. Analysts estimate that over $1 Trillion in cash swells corporate treasuries remaining underemployed on lazy corporate balance sheets. The low interest rate environment has allowed companies to pursue deleveraging strategies considerably strengthening the capital structure of corporate America. To the dismay of politicians and the unemployed, economists speculate that deployment of this cash is still a few quarters away from finding its way into the real economy.
Solutions from Sum2
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For information on the construction and use of the ADP Report, please visit the methodology section of the ADP National Employment Report website.
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Risk: unemployment, recession, recovery, SME