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Great News On Job Security, But On Income Line, Workers Can Hold Back On Breaking Out The Champagne

Hale Stewart profile picture
Hale Stewart

By New Deal Democrat

Some really good news this morning, but a note to hold your horses on the celebration of at least one aspect of that news.

Initial jobless claims, which I've called the single most positive data point in the entire economy, posted nearly a 50-year low at 210,000. On a population - or labor force-adjusted basis, it is an all-time low.

This, by the way, bodes well for another decrease in the unemployment rate in the next several months, possibly as early as in next week's jobs report, as initial jobless claims lead the unemployment rate typically with a short 1-3 month lag.

Bottom line: people may not have great jobs, but the jobs they have are more secure now than they have been at any point since the 1960s. That's great news.

There was good news in personal income and outlays as well, with a strong +0.5% increase in income, and a pop in the savings rate from 2.5% to 3.2%.

BUT... the big positive news looks like a one-time jump based on the payment of bonuses, and also the decline in tax withholding in January due to the tax law changes passed by Congress.

Here's the important note from the Commerce Department:

So we had a big $30 pop in savings due to the payment of annual bonuses that is of a piece with the big +0.8% pop in supervisory wages we saw in January's employment report. There is good reason to believe that little if any of this found its way down to the plebes, also based on January's employment report.

Also noteworthy is that monthly tax withholding, based on the Commerce Department's $115 Billion annual estimate, boils down to just shy of $10 Billion per month, or about 5% of current withholding. That will continue, so the YoY comparisons will continue

This article was written by

Hale Stewart profile picture
Hale Stewart spent 5 years as a bond broker in the late 1990s before returning to law school in the early 2000s. He is currently a tax lawyer in Houston, Texas. He has an LLM in domestic and international taxation (MagnaCumLaude). He is the author of the book The Lifetime Income Security Solution. Follow me on Twitter at @originalbonddadYou can read his legal analysis on his law office's blog.

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Comments (4)

The old Soviet model of full employment and horrible wages appears to be closer to the truth of what is and what's to come in the USA than the much anticipated and hoped for scenario where wages rise significantly for everyone. If those wage hopes do start to materialize, it could be game over as inflation may force the consequences of past monetary policy error and current fiscal policy error to crash the party...not a guarantee, but a very real risk indeed.
When you are on a journey, it is best to start off in the right direction. That has happened.
Now it is time to continue the journey with out becoming over anxious and saying are we there yet!
83% of the "middle class" tax cut goes to the 1%.
MonteQuest profile picture
"There is good reason to believe that little if any of this found its way down to the plebes, also based on January's employment report."

BLS stats show the "production" labor force (80%) only saw +.3% wage growth since Jan 2017.
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