If there is one factor with the greatest potential to mend our economy, it is a steadily improving employment picture. How so? When you look at the U.S. economy as a whole, it is primarily supported by consumer spending.[i] In order for consumers to spend, they must have a measure of disposable income. In order to have disposable income, Americans must have jobs.
To look at it another way: As the employment situation improves, consumer spending typically increases, thus creating additional demand for goods and services. As demand for goods and services grows, more production is needed, thus creating more jobs, and so on. At risk of oversimplifying, this combination of factors explains the cycle of a healthy economy.
So are we seeing improvement in the nation’s jobs picture? Yes. One year ago, the unemployment rate was 9.7%. As of October’s report, it dropped to 9%. On average 152,000 jobs have been added each month during the same time period, for a total of 1.8 million jobs. In addition, the workweek has lengthened and wages are up 1.8%.[ii] All of this shows that the employment picture is gradually improving. Interestingly, October also showed improvement in chain store sales. Overall, the 23 major U.S.-based retailers that report monthly results posted a composite 3.4% gain, according to Thomson Reuters data.[iii]
Does this mean we are completely out of the woods? Not necessarily. For the most part, American wallets aren’t fat enough to push the economic expansion into hyperdrive. Even the 1.8% wage growth mentioned above isn’t enough to keep pace with current inflation rates. We still have a long way to go to reach our full potential, but things are moving in the right direction.
Monday – Consumer Credit
Tuesday – Redbook
Wednesday – Wholesale Trade, Ben Bernanke Speaks at 9:30AM Eastern
Thursday – International Trade, Jobless Claims, Import and Export Prices, Treasury Budget
Friday – Consumer Sentiment