According to the latest government data, prices are falling and wage growth is slowing. People aren’t spending as much as they used too It seems that inflation is being controlled, at least from all appearances. It’s not clear at this time if the U.S. is actually in control or if there’s a recession looming. Kathryn […]
According to the latest government data, prices are falling and wage growth is slowing. People aren’t spending as much as they used too
It seems that inflation is being controlled, at least from all appearances. It’s not clear at this time if the U.S. is actually in control or if there’s a recession looming.
Kathryn Anne Edwards is an economist, independent consultant, and adjunct at Rand Corp. She uses the “bad week” analogy for describing the current economic situation.
Edwards states, “In the fight against inflation we’re always in a perpetual state on Wednesdays.” “It’s midweek. “It’s midweek. We know that we’ve had some bad days. However, we are still looking for further evidence to see how this week will go. We’ll know by Friday if it has been a bad week. It could still go either span>
Ideal scenario: Inflation continues to trend downward, but there is no significant increase in unemployment. We celebrate the end of another recession as prices stabilize.
This is a possibility considering the tight labor market continues to be despite higher prices. The unemployment rate is at an astonishing 3.4%. Quit rates are still high and job opportunities remain plentiful, even though wage growth slows and layoffs begin to affect certain industries.
“The verdict is still out, but it’s moving towards a brighter economic picture,” said Nela Richardson (chief economist at ADP Research Institute).
Overall, it seems like the Federal Reserve is directing economic conditions in the right direction. The Federal Reserve responded by increasing the federal funds rate only 25 basis points on Wednesday. This is lower than the 50-basis point hike in December, and the four 75-basis point hikes in 2022.
Although a smaller Fed rate hike is positive, it is also a sign that the Fed isn’t satisfied. Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated that it is highly probable at least “a few” more rate hikes are to be forthcoming during a February 1 press conference. The Fed targets 2% inflation, with the current rate at 6.5%. Powell stated that the Fed requires “substantially more evidence” that inflation is on an ongoing downward path .”</span.
Powell stated, “It would have been premature to declare victory” or to believe we’ve got it all.
Wage growth is moderate
In a sign of slowing wage growth, wages, salaries, and benefits saw the smallest quarterly increases in more than a year. The most recent Employment Cost Index, which measures wage growth and labor costs, shows that quarterly labor costs rose by just 1.2% compared to 1.2% in quarter previous. The fourth quarter 2022 labor costs saw a 5.1% increase year-over year, compared to the 5.2% increase in the previous quarter.
However, labor costs are not at the level that the Fed wants them to be. They currently average 3.5% per year as they were before the pandemic. During Wednesday’s press conference, Powell suggested that the labor market may need some “softening”. However, this was before the release of the most recent jobs report.
This is the lowest rate of unemployment in over 50 years. Richardson said: “If Fed was looking to a soft landing it’s almost as if the economy pulled out an inflatable mattress; but this is more than soft. It is a cushy land.”
Richardson says that it is too early to predict the economic trajectory.
Richardson says, “We’ll be watching to see if these trends continue through the new year.” “Like all things, the labor market changes so rapidly, so it is important to pay attention to wages and labor force participation as well as monthly wage gains to understand the current dynamics.”
A lower wage growth is bad news for workers, particularly since wages are not keeping up with inflation. Edwards states that there has been a decline in wage growth pressure, which is good for the inflation story. However, Edwards doesn’t believe it’s necessarily good news for American households.
Richardson believes that the slower wage growth in the service sector is likely due to higher hiring, not the professional industry.
The labor market is strong, despite some layoffs
The labor market is still strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ February 3 jobs report, January’s unemployment rate was 3.4%. This is slightly less than December’s 3.5% rate. The Quit rate, which is a measure of workers’ willingness and ability to work for themselves, remained steady at 2.7% throughout 2022, but was down from 3.0% in 2021.
Most likely, you’ve seen news stories about layoffs in the past few months. Companies like Meta, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Microsoft are the hardest hit. Recent layoffs in media include those at CNN, NBC and Vox, as well as The Washington Post.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report indicates that the rate of layoffs has not changed much from month to month in 2022 (ranging between 0.9% and 1.0%) even though they have increased slightly from last year (0.8%). There was also job growth in January, which far exceeded any layoffs.
Richardson says that a weak labor market right now is nothing to be concerned about. If you are unfortunate enough to be laid off as a worker, it appears like you’re being laid out in a market where there is a chance of getting a job sooner than if you were in a recession span>
Certain industries are able to handle more opportunities than they can handle. Most notable are hospitality and leisure, government and retail trade. Some employers want to hire more employees. Chipotle, a fast-food giant, recently announced that it will be hiring 15,000 employees for its restaurant business.
Inflation is decreasing
The Consumer Price Index (or CPI) is a proxy for inflation. It has shown an annual inflation of above 5% every year since May 2021, the seventh period with high inflation since the Second World War.
The CPI has been falling for several months. CPI rose 6.5% in December compared to 7.1% in November. The current increase is much lower than the 9.1% year-over-year peak in June 2022 when CPI rose by 6.5%.
Consumers are seeing a decrease in the pace of price growth. For example, gas prices aren’t as low as they were a month ago or a year ago but they’re still 30% less than last summer, when they averaged $5.006.
Core personal consumption expenditures price index (or core PCE), is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure for inflation. It tracks how consumers change their spending habits to adjust to changes in prices of goods and services. The core PCE does not include food or energy. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s Jan. 27 report, core PCE growth is slowing. It rose 4.4% in December from November’s 4.7% and October’s 5.1% respectively. This indicates that spending is decreasing.
The Fed raising interest rates is not the only reason for the price drop. This makes inflation unpredictable. The supply chain woes have been eased which has helped to lower the prices of products. Edwards also points out that not all price changes are equal. Eggs are more expensive because of avian flu.
The behavior of consumers is changing
Consumers padded their savings and went online to shop until they dropped, even though they were stuck at home for the first year of the pandemic. People began to invest in restaurants and travel as restrictions started to disappear. Home sales rose steadily, and auto dealers couldn’t keep up due to a shortage of chips.
Inflation began to eat up gains in savings and wages during 2022.
People now spend less on goods and more money on services. According to Bureau of Economic Analysis data, December’s real consumer spending (the total amount of consumer expenditure adjusted for inflation) and consumer goods spending both fell in December according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, including ecommerce, retail sales are beginning to fall from their peak in October 2022, as analyzed by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The slowdown in spending on homes and cars is also evident.
According to Bureau of Economic Analysis data, consumers are still spending money on services. Housing and utilities lead the charge, followed by transportation and health care.
The savings gains over the past few years have been slowed. According to Bureau of Economic Analysis data, personal savings have fallen dramatically since their peak in April 2020. Current savings rates are now closer to what they were in March 2008.
People who borrowed money to purchase cars, homes or travel will have a harder time repaying their debts. The Fed’s rate hikes have pushed interest rates up to a target range between 4.5% and 4.75%. With additional increases on the horizon, debt repayments will be much more costly for borrowers.
There is no wage-price spiral
The wage growth is not keeping pace with the price growth. While this may seem bad for workers short-term, it could be better than the alternatives, at least according economic theory. We’ll be stuck in a downward spiral where inflation is out of control because the pace of wage growth doesn’t match that of prices for goods or services.
Businesses offer higher wages to employees and workers in order to keep them employed and motivated. This is the basic supply-demand relationship. It is a benefit to workers in today’s economic climate, which has low unemployment and many job opportunities.
This scenario could theoretically get out of control and lead to a wage-price spiral. If both nominal and consumer prices continue rising, this could happen. This scenario is unlikely to happen. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated to Bloomberg on Jan. 27 that “We are not seeing a wages-price spiral span>