Monday Aug 08, 2022
Monday Aug 08, 2022
Friday’s job report was a good surprise showing non-farm payroll increased by 528,000 jobs, this caused the unemployment rate to fall to 3.5%. We have now recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic returning to levels not seen since February 2020. Average hourly earnings were up 5.2% over last year but it appears that wage growth could be slowing.
In a separate survey from Greenhouse a recruitment software company said that 70% of workers are optimistic about the job market. 66% of people surveyed said if their wages were cut, they would look for a new job. There are still about 5.9 million people in the labor force who want a job, based on the latest JOLT’s report there is still nearly two jobs for each person looking for a job.
The biggest gains in jobs were found in the Leisure and Hospitality, 96,000. These are not low paying jobs any longer, the nationwide average is $20.22/hr which is 26% higher than four years ago. Remember this is a national average, wages will be higher in California then in Arkansas.
Job growth was also seen in Professional and Business services up 89,000, Healthcare up 70, 000, Government climbed 57,000, lastly construction jobs increased 32,000.
The good news scared the markets and pushed the ten-year treasury to 2.84% with concerns of sharply higher and longer rate increases.
The JOLTS report came out this week and while the headline numbers may look concerning it is important to point out the levels, we have been seeing were extremely elevated and not sustainable. Total job openings of 10.7 million at the end of June missed the estimate of 11.14 million. This was a decline of 605,000 or 5.4% compared to the month of May and was well off the recent all-time high in March of 11.86 million. The level of job openings is well above the level of available workers as the difference is still 4.8 million. This means there were still 1.8 open jobs per available worker! Also, to give you an idea of where we were at pre pandemic, in December 2019 total job openings stood at 6.7 million. This was an elevated level historically and also, during a very healthy job market. Overall, this job's market still remains very strong.
We have been talking about the strong dollar that we are currently enjoying along with some of the benefits and unfortunately some of the negatives. Another example is recently the US dollar could by 80 Indian rupees, a high that has never been seen in history. Using the most recent trade report from 2019 (2020 was during Covid and not useable data) shows the US exported to India $59 billion but our imports were $87 billion. Our strong dollar means we will be paying less for the imports from India, hopefully we will not see a decline in what we export to them.
Credit Card Increases
Credit card balances increased $46 billion in the second quarter bringing total credit card debt to $890 billion. Inflation became the immediate concern, but maybe that is not the entire reason. Remember how much traveling has exploded in the second quarter with airlines and hotels seeing their businesses boom. When’s the last time you were at the airport and saw someone pay cash? Most of these reservations and transactions are done online via credit card. The JOLTs report came out yesterday and was strong at 10.6 million job openings. When people have a job, they feel confident that they won’t be losing it anytime soon and feel more comfortable running up some debt on credit cards. Two other facts should be pointed out. In the final quarter of 2019 credit card debt hit $930 billion, roughly $40 billion above where we are now. Also, consumers do have $2 trillion more in savings today than back in 2019.
Assets Under Management
A recent survey conducted by Bank of America of 300 fund managers with assets under management of $800 billion backed my optimism for our portfolio come the end of the year. It was revealed that cash holdings now stand at 6.1% which is the highest since October 2001, a month after the terrible event of 9/11. This may not mean that the decline is now over in equities, but it could signal that perhaps the worst is behind us. It was also notable that responses to the survey listed the three most popular sectors which included consumer staples, utilities, and healthcare. Unpopular in the survey was technology and consumer discretionary. Anyone want to guess what popular sectors Wilsey Asset Management agrees with? Please be aware we will not confirm nor deny.
Around 6 to 12 months ago we did a post about the crazy secondary sneaker market with sales of sneakers going at outrageous prices. We posted this was happening because of all the free money that was being given out and when the free money stopped the market on secondary sneakers would drop like a deflated basketball. Well that time has come with a glut of sneakers on the secondary market and prices are falling by nearly a third. Just like the meme stocks and cryptocurrencies, when the demand drops so do the prices, and if you did invest in some limited edition sneakers you may want to be one of the many who are unloading now to get better prices. If not, you may be using them for playing basketball on the weekends. As I write this post, I also remember writing another post about the high-end luxury purses and how they were going for outrageous prices. I have not read anything yet on their decline, but it would not surprise me to see that within the next six months as well. If people would just be satisfied earning around 10% on good quality equities many more people would have a much better retirement.
42% of Americans say they are not impacted financially from the recession but have become cautious with spending. However, consumer sentiment is at the lowest level on record going back to the late 70s which means consumers are more pessimistic than the 911 attack, the tech bust and the great recession from 2007 to 2009. On the positive side unemployment stands near record lows, savings for consumers are $2 trillion higher than before the pandemic and overall consumers seem resilient. So, what is a difference this time? The only thing I can think of is people have less faith in this current administration in Washington than they have in a long time.
I’ve been predicting we will see inflation by the end of the year somewhere between 4% and 6%. While that is good news from these levels, the problem is that the Fed's inflation target is 2%. This may result in a repeat of the 1980 and 81-82 double dip recession. If inflation gets stuck in the 4% to 6% range in 2023 the Fed may once again start increasing interest rates in late spring or early summer causing two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. In summary this means 2022 and 2023 will be low growth years which do not favor growth stocks and investors will have to find good values in value stocks along with being patient and happy with returns in the 6% to 10% range and high volatility.
We’re in the middle of earning season and you may be hearing or will be hearing some companies talk about the effects of the strong dollar on their earnings. Nearly a third of S&P 500 earnings come from overseas which can negatively affect their earnings. Be aware this negative affect could be gone in a year or so.
Harrison Johnson, CFP®: Medicare Irmad (Income related monthly adjusted amount)