Moving to our own problems…
American April 2012 unemployment numbers released Friday disappointed. Economists were looking for 160,000 in new jobs growth, but only 115,000 in new jobs growth was created (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, mysteriously, the unemployment rate fell from 8.2% to 8.1% (more on that in moment).
Looking closer at the unemployment numbers; temporary help, general merchandise stores and food and drink places contributed the most to jobs growth by adding 62,000 jobs. This means that these low-paying jobs represented 54% of the new jobs growth created.
With this persistent theme of low-paying jobs growth being created in the U.S. economy, it is no surprise the jobs growth report showed average hourly earnings were flat in April 2012, when compared to March. Year-over-year, average hourly earnings have increased by a measly 1.8%, but when one adjusts for inflation, the average American’s real disposable income is declining!
Since 70% of gross domestic product (GDP) is consumer spending, I don’t see how consumer spending can increase in 2012 with pathetic jobs growth and no meaningful increases in average hourly earnings.
U6, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a broader measure of the unemployment rate, because it takes into account discouraged people who are still looking for work, as well as those working part-time, who want full-time work. The U6 unemployment rate was flat in April 2012 when compared to March at 14.5%.
The good news (yes, there is some) is that the previous two months saw higher revisions to jobs growth, with 54,000 more jobs created than originally reported. Not to take away from that positive news…typically in an economic recovery we should consistently be hitting 200,000 news jobs a month. We are far from this number.
One more quick note on U.S. April job numbers…
The labor participation rate measures all people in the working population (from ages 16-64) who are actually employed. In January, the rate hit a 30-year low of 63.7% (that is, only 63.7% of the people who can work and want to work are actually working). In February, it improved somewhat to 63.9%, but in March it dipped to 63.8%; while, in April, it fell further to its lowest level since December 1981 at 63.6%.
So how does the “official” unemployment rate drop to 8.1%? Simply, the figure is misleading. Discouraged workers who stop looking for work and those unemployed after one year are no longer counted in the unemployment rate.
Accordingly, the number of persons not in the labor force continues to climb higher: 88,879 million people, with the seasonally adjusted number being 88,419 million. This is absolutely mind-boggling.
Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:
After a difficult Friday for stocks, stock market futures point to a weak opening this morning, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average slated to open below the pivotal 13,000 range again.
I continue with the belief that the market is putting in a “huge” top here. The stock market rally that started in March of 2009 is near the end of its cycle.
What He Said:
“Despite all my ‘yelling’ and ‘screaming’ about gold, I believe only a few of my readers and a small fraction of the general public haven taken a position in gold. Why? Because gold’s not trendy…buying condominiums for investment is! If you are an investor, you need to seriously look at investing in gold stocks, because gold bullion prices will likely continue to rise.” Michael Lombardi in PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL, September, 21, 2005. Gold bullion was trading under $300.00 an ounce when Michael first started recommending gold-related investments.