This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 09 December 2022

By: Taro Chellaram /Wells Fargo Economics & Financial Report/Dec 15, 2022

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 09 December 2022

The November release of the ISM services index kicked off the week with a surprisingly strong reading on the U.S. economy. The index rose 2.1 points to 56.5 despite consensus expectations for a roughly one-point decline. The outturn was higher than any of the 60 forecast estimates submitted to Bloomberg. The better-than-expected gain was due almost entirely to a 9.0-point increase in the business activity index. This component is now at its highest reading in almost a year, signaling economic growth in the service sector remained widespread through November. The new orders component fell slightly but remained in solid territory at 56.0.

While the slowdown in service sector activity has been more muted than manufacturing, so has the impact on prices. The ISM services prices paid component declined last month, but a reading of 70.0 suggests price pressures still remain elevated. In contrast, the prices paid component in the ISM manufacturing index has fallen to 43.0, the lowest reading since May 2020. This is the largest gap on record for the two price indices and speaks to the different inflation dynamics for service-providers and manufacturers.

This week's producer price index (PPI) data for November was reflective of this divergence between goods and services inflation. The PPI for final demand increased by 0.3% in November. Beneath the headline, prices for final demand services rose 0.4%, while final demand goods prices inched up just 0.1% in the month. Even as we see a reprieve in goods prices, the slow descent in the larger services sector speaks to the fact that it will take time for inflation to return to target and that the Fed still has work to do in its fight against inflation.

Fortunately for the Fed's inflation fight, there was other data this week that suggested some modest improvement in reducing labor cost growth. Revisions to the unit labor cost and productivity figures for the third quarter showed unit labor costs rising at a 2.4% annualized rate in Q3, the slowest pace of growth since Q1-2021. Unit labor costs adjust hourly compensation for labor productivity. Put another way, unit labor costs measure how much it costs a business to produce one unit of output. All else equal, faster unit labor cost growth should be inflationary, and slower growth should be disinflationary. Although the Q3 reading was encouraging, this data can be very volatile on a quarter-to-quarter basis, and over the past year unit labor costs are up 5.3%, roughly triple the average pace in 2019.

Slower labor cost growth could be in the offing if the labor market cools in the year ahead, and this week's unemployment claims data suggest some looser labor market conditions on the margin. Continuing jobless claims increased to 1.67M through the week ending November 26. The above chart shows how continuing claims have been on the rise since bottoming at the beginning of the summer. On an absolute basis, the level of claims is still quite low. For context, continuing claims averaged 1.70M in 2019 in what was a tight labor market. But as we look to 2023, we expect this trend to continue as the labor market rolls over and employment begins to outright contract by the second half of next year. This in turn should help reduce labor cost growth and, by extension, move inflation much closer to the Federal Reserve's 2% target.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 13 March 2020

Financial conditions tightened sharply this week as concerns over the coronavirus and the economic fallout of containment efforts mounted.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 02 September 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.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 27 May 2022

it looks like higher mortgage rates are starting to have some effect on the housing market as April...

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 17 December 2021

7 Interest Rate Watch for more detail. In other news, retail sales data disappointed as higher prices factor into spending and industrial activity continued to recover but remains beset by supply issues.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 23 September 2020

European activity is surging. Germany and Italy are leading the way, but France is close behind despite an ongoing rise in cases. The Google data are a bit outdated, but are hard to reconcile with today’s weak Eurozone services PMI figures.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 03 February 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.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 20 May 2022

U.S. retail sales topped expectations in April, while industrial production also grew more rapidly than economists expected. Data on housing starts, home sales and homebuilder sentiment, however, showed tentative signs of cooling.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 28 May 2021

This week\'s light calendar of economic reports showed supply chain disruptions tugging a little at economic growth.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 01 October 2021

Economic data this week indicated that the ongoing expansion still has some momentum despite some familiar headwinds, though this week\'s releases were largely overshadowed by a busy week on Capitol Hill.

This Week's State Of The Economy - What Is Ahead? - 15 January 2021

Retail sales fell 0.7% in December, the third straight monthly decline. Sales are still up 2.9% over the year, however.


@ tcgcrealestate

Subscribe Now! IT's Free

Stay up to date with all news coming straight in your mailbox.

Copyright © 2023 TC Global Commercial. All rights reserved.