skip to Main Content

US labour market – uncertainty remains paramount with data volatility

On November 3, 2017, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – October 2017 – which showed that total non-farm employment from the payroll survey rose by 261,000 in October, which the BLS said “mostly offset … a decline in
September that largely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey”. For more on that issue see my analysis from last month – US labour market – hit by two hurricanes but improvement suggested. While the payroll data showed a strong rebound in employment, the Labour Force Survey data estimated a sharp drop in employment (484 thousand) in October while the labour force was also estimated to have contracted sharply by 765 thousand. The latter was due to a rather implausible decline in the participation rate (0.4 points), which will probably be revised next month. But, taking the data on face value, the BLS estimated that unemployment fell by 281 thousand and the official unemployment rate fell by 0.2 points to 4.1 per cent. There is still a large jobs deficit remaining and other indicators suggest the labour market is still below where it was prior to the crisis. What was striking about the October data though was the dramatic fall in the labour force participation rate – by 0.4 percentage points allied with the decline in the Employment-Population ratio (0.2 points). I analyse those movements in this month’s focus section of this blog. On the face of the aggregate data, the US labour market is getting back to its pre-GFC position but there is evidence that the quality of work has declined and negative cyclical effects remain in the system.

Read More
Back To Top