The recent jobs report supports the ongoing narrative that the economy is on a “soft landing” trajectory. The U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in December, while the 3-month average continues to trend downward. It’s almost the perfect scenario for a “soft landing.” 1
Much of the gains are coming in Health Care and Government. Not surprising when you consider the rapidly aging U.S. population and the massive expansion of the government. Without those two sectors the overall jobs picture would be even more moderate. 2
Cutting this data another way; layoffs are trending up and fewer people are quitting their jobs. I suspect workers are waking up to the new reality that they don’t have all the bargaining power they once had during Covid. 3
If you looked at this data, it would certainly support the Fed’s notion that we are in for a “soft landing” and perhaps their forecasted 75bp of rate cuts in 2024. I think we will publish on each of our blogs this year our rate cut barometer. See below.
However, looking into the report further you can find something alarming. The economy actually shed over 1.5 million full-time jobs. 3
Further, when you look at the revisions over the course of 2023 you can see the initial reports were overstated by nearly 500k jobs. 3
You have to wonder where all the jobs went. It’s likely workers just left the workforce. In that case the economy might be weaker than the Fed thinks, and perhaps tilts toward Wall Street’s expectations of six rate cuts or 150 basis points. 4
You can see more of the details in our Q1 2024 Look Ahead.
The “missing persons” jobs report is curious and perhaps tilts toward more rate cuts than the Fed is forecasting.
Tim Phillips, CEO, Phillips & Company