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Today's Economic Data Is Less Impressive Than The Stock Market's Reaction

Pending revisions, the internals of the establishment segment of the BLS employment situation release were actually weak. Per Summary Table B:

HOURS AND EARNINGS
ALL EMPLOYEES

 

Total private

 

Average weekly hours

34.5 34.5 34.6 34.4

Average hourly earnings

$23.42 $23.82 $23.83 $23.87

Average weekly earnings

$807.99 $821.79 $824.52 $821.13

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2007=100)(3)

96.3 97.9 98.3 97.9

Over-the-month percent change

0.1 0.5 0.4 -0.4

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2007=100)(4)

107.6 111.2 111.7 111.5

Over-the-month percent change

0.2 0.7 0.4 -0.2
 

HOURS AND EARNINGS
PRODUCTION AND NONSUPERVISORY EMPLOYEES

 

Total private

 

Average weekly hours

33.7 33.8 33.8 33.7

Average hourly earnings

$19.72 $20.03 $20.04 $20.06

Average weekly earnings

$664.56 $677.01 $677.35 $676.02

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2002=100)(3)

103.6 105.6 105.7 105.5

Over-the-month percent change

0.1 0.9 0.1 -0.2

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2002=100)(4)

136.4 141.2 141.4 141.3

Over-the-month percent change

0.3 1.1 0.1 -0.1
 

DIFFUSION INDEX(5)
(Over 1-month span)

 

Total private (266 industries)

58.3 61.7 56.2 53.9

Manufacturing (81 industries)

54.9 56.8 51.9 44.4

The index of aggregate weekly hours was weak, down 0.2% month on month. The diffusion index over all industries was near breakeven at 53.9%, and worse, the manufacturing diffusion index was negative at 44.4%.

Separately, the Census Dept. had a downbeat report today on manufacturing in March. The inventories to shipments ratio expanded to 1.29 from 1.27. This is not a good number. Other data points were weak, as well. Consistent with the uniformly weak five regional Fed manufacturing surveys, this survey, in accordance with the sub-50 manufacturing diffusion data from the BLS survey, raises the question of whether the US entered a manufacturing recession, or borderline recession, recently.

Getting back to jobs, the Gallup survey of hiring-not hiring has been steady for months, continuing at 2008 (recessionary) levels. So I'd urge just as much caution about a decent but unexciting employment report as about any other real-time data report that is going to be revised and re-revised for some time to come.