September 18, 2013
By a small margin, Canada has bragging rights over the U.S. based on August’s labour reports (Part 2)
The year-over-year climb in U.S. total employment is now 2.2 million jobs. But another 1.9 million jobs will need to be created for the nation to reach its previous peak of 138.1 million, achieved in January 2008.
U.S. total employment in August was +1.6% year-over-year, led by new hires in the services sector, +2.2%.
The number of construction jobs in the U.S. stayed flat in the month, as did the industry’s unemployment rate, 9.1%. Compared with a year ago, however, when the figure was 11.3%, the jobless rate in on-site work has fallen significantly.
Construction employment in the U.S. is now +3.0% year-over-year, which is relatively modest, given the revival in the residential real estate sector. But it’s better than in manufacturing, where year-over-year employment in August was up by the slimmest of margins, +0.2%.
Don’t despair, though. There are plenty of indications that new life is being breathed into manufacturers’ activity levels. Employment in the important motor vehicle and parts production sub-sector is +4.4% year-over-year.
More impressively, the number of factory workers in the auto trades has risen by 191,000 when compared with the low point for the industry in June 2009. That’s a percentage increase of 31% (i.e., nearly one-third).
The recent numbers on motor vehicles sales from Autodata Corp. illustrate the extent of the improvement in the U.S. automotive market. Seasonally adjusted and annualized (SAAR) motor vehicle sales in August were 16.1 million units, a jump of 11% versus August 2012’s 14.5 million.
Year-to-date light motor vehicle sales in the U.S. have been +9.6% compared with the first eight months of 2012, with passenger cars +6.9% and light trucks +12.7%.
Also upbeat for manufacturing as a whole, the latest (August) Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), at 55.7%, was bullish for the third month in a row.
History has shown that such a level for the PMI corresponds with a “real” (i.e., inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 4.2%.
In the first quarter of this year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), U.S. total output rose by 1.1% quarter-to-quarter annualized. From April to June, it speeded up to +2.5%.
In numerical terms, the U.S. sub-sector leaders in employment growth in August were: retail trade, +44,000; education and health, +43,000; and leisure and hospitality, +27,000.
Business in the latter sector — encompassing travel and entertainment — has been one of the economy’s growth leaders over the past four year. There has been a steady rise in employment since early 2010.
In Reed Construction Data’s July construction starts statistics, the “hotels and motels” category was +49.3% month-to-month.
And here’s another indication of dollars bubbling to the surface. According to the Census Bureau, investments in lodgings in July of this year were +33% compared with the same month last year.
Government departments added 17,000 jobs in August, but it was all at the local level (+20,000) and entirely in education.
The federal government stood pat, while state payrolls contracted by 3,000.
The data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) isn’t the only source of information on U.S. jobs.
USA Today recently re-published a report from 24/7wallst.com listing categories in which employment has doubled over the past decade, the recession notwithstanding.
In reverse order, the biggest employment advances have been realized by: 10) skin care specialists; 9) personal care aides; 8) personal financial advisors; 7) coaches and scouts; 6) human resource specialists; 5) massage therapists; 4) interpreters and translators; 3) music directors and composers; 2) petroleum engineers; and<0x2026> drum roll please<0x2026> 1) service unit operators in oil, gas and mining.
The demographic shift towards an aging population, as well as increasing globalization, are accounting for many of the strongest job-growth designations.
Nevertheless, the preponderance of work in the ranking requiring person-to-person interaction, and the dearth of representation by more traditional occupations, is quite an eye-opener.
Canada vs U.S.
(Department of Labor)/Chart: CanaData – Reed Construction Data.