The economic data released during the holiday-shortened week are consistent with our view that U.S. economic growth remained firmly in positive territory during the final quarter of 2022. That noted, a modest contraction in growth beginning in mid-2023 remains our base case forecast as the lagged effects of high inflation and monetary tightening take hold.
Ongoing strength in the labor market helps corroborate our view that the economy is on a positive growth path at present. Nonfarm payrolls rose by a solid 223K during December, a slight downshift from the 256K gain posted in November. Despite the slight moderation, the job-gain easily beat market expectations. The nonfarm payroll gain was in line with the ADP employment report for December, which showed a 235K gain. Despite the sturdy pace of hiring during the month, job growth appears to be moderating from the robust rate seen in the first half of 2022.
A decline in the unemployment rate to 3.5% in December from 3.6% the month prior is another reminder that the labor market remains tight. A rise in the labor force participation rate during December is an encouraging sign that labor supply is improving. Alongside the uptick in labor force participation, average hourly earnings moderated to 0.3% during the month, a softer gain than the downwardly revised 0.4% monthly increase in November. The moderation in earnings is at least one sign that wage growth is cooling. Still, average hourly earnings are running at a 4.1% annualized pace over the past three months, which is still well above what the Fed believes would be consistent with sustained 2% inflation. All told, this report does little to alter our view that the FOMC will remain in tightening mode when it concludes its first meeting of 2023 on February 1. As we write in the Interest Rate Watch, the FOMC minutes for December's meeting revealed that a monetary pivot is not likely imminent, as inflation remains hot and employment growth remains strong.
A modest drop in job openings is another sign that, while softening, labor demand remains relatively strong currently. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) revealed that the count of job vacancies fell to 10.46 million in November from 10.51 million in October, a smaller decline than consensus estimates. Chair Powell has hinted on several occasions that the vacancy-to-unemployed ratio, which remained highly elevated in November, needs to come down in order to ease wage pressures and reduce overall inflation.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Nov 10, 2020
As of this writing, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election is undecided. Joe Biden, however, appears likely to become president based off of his growing lead in several key states.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Oct 22, 2021
The first economic data released this week in the United States reinforced the theme that labor supply and demand are struggling to come into balance.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Aug 11, 2021
Despite a few misses on the headline numbers, economic data this week highlighted a theme of demand continuing to outstrip supply and ongoing slack in the labor market.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Feb 28, 2023
Existing home sales declined 0.7% in January, while new home sales leaped 7.2%. Real personal spending shot higher in January, and solid growth in discretionary spending suggests continued consumer resilience.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Aug 19, 2021
The general outlook remains positive as households have accumulated over $2T in excess savings on their balance sheets and net worth has risen across all income groups.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Sep 05, 2022
More job seekers also lifted the participation rate to 62.4% and thus easing some tightness in the job market even as payrolls expanded.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Sep 28, 2020
Existing home sales rose 2.4% to a 6.0-million unit annual pace. The surge in sales further depleted inventories and pushed prices sharply higher.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Mar 16, 2022
Russia\'s invasion of Ukraine continues to consume nearly all media attention and has created a level of volatility that is not yet reflected in the data released this week.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Apr 17, 2021
Data released this week continue to show that the economic recovery has gained momentum in March. The much anticipated consumer boom has arrived.
Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report / Feb 04, 2023
During January, payrolls jumped by 517K, the unemployment rate fell to 3.4% and average hourly earnings rose by 0.3%. The FOMC raised the fed funds target range by 25 bps to 4.5%-4.75% this week.