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美国最新就业报告出炉,情况是喜还是忧?

Kevin Kellher 2019年10月17日

美国劳工部称9月失业率降至3.5%,创1969年12月以来的新低,且低于经济学家预计的3.7%。

以失业率降至50年低点为标题的本月就业报告被称为“金发女孩”报告,它并非昭示经济过热的那种热,也不是预示萧条来临的那种疲软。在大多数时候,这类新闻才是华尔街的最爱。

但对于每一个“金发女孩”寓言故事来说,其重点都在于饥饿的熊是否又要回归。尽管金融市场大多对该就业报告持有乐观态度,但受此鼓舞的股市却集体沉默,而且一些经济学家还通过深挖数据发现了一些预警信号。因此,这则表里风光无限的新闻却也带着些许令人忧虑的意味。

10月初,美国劳工部称9月失业率降至3.5%,创1969年12月以来的新低,且低于经济学家预计的3.7%。非农就业岗位增长了13.6万个,较预期低9000个。一些经济学家称,由于就业池潜在员工的每月增幅达到了约14万人,因此任何远低于这个值的数字都可被看作是预警信号。无论你是一个工人、求职者还是投资者,我们都可以这样来理解这一数据。

岗位增长和低失业率是好消息,不是吗?

通常来说是的。新增岗位如今与其需求保持着一致水平。这对于劳工来说是好事,对于投资者来说亦是如此,因为它意味着按照当前这个最受关注的指标来看,经济依然在增长。与此同时,它增长的还不是太快,否则美联储可能会暂缓进一步降息,不过华尔街则正押注降息将在未来几个月内发生。

金融市场在很大程度上对这一新闻持乐观态度。道琼斯工业平均指数自10月4日该报告出炉之后出现了上涨,而10年国债收益率则基本上没有变化。

然而,当前的经济增长已经进入第十个年头,经济总体增速正在放缓,而且可能很快会跌破上个季度的2%。从其他指标来看,经济发展放缓已经是不可避免,例如最近《财富》杂志的分析调查则凸显了采购经理的悲观情绪,以及对制造业和服务行业招聘人数可能会放缓的担忧。

当经济增长周期跨度足够长时,周期经常会以以下两种方式收尾:第一种,各大公司遭遇萧条,并裁员(成为一种自我实现的预言);第二种,利率长期盘旋在超低位,引发对商业投资或市场交易的投机,从而导致过剩和更痛苦的着陆。简而言之,上次经济衰退的便是第二种方式的体现。

美国经济是过热还是放缓?

这是一个数万亿美元的问题,而且也是近几周以来金融市场争辩的焦点。美中贸易关系的不确定性也让这个问题变得愈发复杂,而且事实证明,这一关系目前已经变得极其难以预测。贸易争端的解决可能会导致经济的进一步增长。贸易争端的升级则有可能成为美国或其他经济体进入衰退的导火索。

鉴于上述不确定性因素,经济学家和投资者一直都分外关注9月的就业报告。他们将其数据点与其他经济指标进行关联,以便尽可能清楚地了解美国经济以及金融市场的健康将何去何从。

我们到底能从就业和经济数据中了解到什么?

你可能已经猜到,关于这一点目前还没有明确的一致意见,而是出现了多个派别。一些人认为这是警告信号,而其他专家则更多地将其看成是经济增长,只不过速度有所放缓。这个情形很像是以前的光学错觉,取决于个人肉眼所见,有的人看到的是一只鸭子,而有的人看到的是一只兔子,放到金融领域就成了牛市和熊市之分。

一个关键问题在于,各大公司继续招聘的势头还能持续多长时间?美国劳工部在10月9日表示,8月新增岗位数略超过700万。说到应付美国新增劳动力的需求,这个数字可谓是绰绰有余,但较数月前下降了4.4%。如果各大公司开始裁员或延迟招聘,那么岗位/求职者比率就会下降。这个情形可能很快就会出现。美国的大多数首席财务官预计未来12个月将出现就业萧条。

就业网站Indeed.com的经济师尼克·邦克在就业报告出炉后写道:“劳工需求前景正在逐渐暗淡”。他还指出,该现象也为“‘劳动力市场的下滑源于雇主需求’这个观点提供了证据”。

为什么薪资没有增长?

这是另一个有关薪资增速的问题。在前几轮周期中,时薪随着劳动力市场的趋紧而出现了上升趋势。但这一次并没有发生。

9月的就业报告显示,美国平均时薪下降了1美分,至28.09美元,这是近两年以来首次月度同比下降。从年度同比来看,薪资仅增长了2.9%,是14个月以来的最低增幅。不计通胀,过去一年的薪资增速仅有1.2%。

然而,薪资增长的停滞大多出现在高薪职位。受整体基数的影响,很多餐馆和零售员工因为某些地区提升最低工资标准而出现的薪资增长也就没有那么明显了。但反过来,这对于很多企业来说都意味着成本的增长。

摩根士丹利的首席美国经济师艾伦·曾特纳在接受彭博电台采访时表示:“大量的新岗位都来自于餐馆、休闲场所和酒店。餐馆一直在抱怨招不到足够的员工,因为当大环境变好时,服务员都会跑到薪水更高的地方。”

所有这一切对于制造业和服务岗位意味着什么?

有人提出要谨慎看待就业报告,因为作为经济预测风向标的它更多的是一个事后指标,而企业首席财务官和招聘经理的看法则更能代表当前的趋势。不过,这些人的看法则更加悲观。

9月,供应管理协会的制造商采购经理指数为47.8%,创2009年夏天以来的新低,较8月下降了49.1%。该指数低于50%则意味着制造业正在萎缩。该协会类似的服务业公司指数也出现了下滑,在9月降至低于预期的52.6,而8月为56.4。

此外,IHS Markit的一项独立调查显示,美国新设企业增速亦处于10年来的新低。 IHS Markit的首席商业经济师克里斯·威廉姆森在一篇新闻稿中指出:“过去两个月中商业活动的背靠背扩张处于2009年以来的最低水平,也释放出了第三季度GDP增速或将放缓的信号。”

总的来说,就业报告所依据以及所包含的经济数据为人们勾勒出了一幅不确定的图片:随着图片画面变得越来越清晰,这个正在衰老的经济越来越难以孕育大量的新岗位。

可以确定的是,当前的经济周期终将结束。至于何时结束,则取决于未来几周会出现什么样的新数据、美联储如何操作利率,以及美中如何处理不断发酵的贸易争端。对于所有人来说,我们有必要密切关注各类事件,也有必要为自己留一条能够轻易脱身的后路,以防这个故事中的熊最终真的出现在自己的眼前。(今天快3走势图_极速快3网址)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

 

This month’s jobs report, headlined by the lowest unemployment rate in a half century, was hailed as a “Goldilocks” report: not so hot the economy will overheat, not so sluggish it presages a recession. Most of the time, that’s the kind of news Wall Street loves to hear.

But central to every Goldilocks fable are the hungry bears returning home. And while the financial markets greeted the jobs report as mostly bullish, the stock rally it inspired was muted, and some economists are spying warning signs deeper in the data. So as bullish as the news was, it was also a bit bearish as well.

At the beginning of October, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in September, the lowest since December 1969 and below the 3.7% estimate from economists. Non-farm payrolls grew by 136,000, 9,000 fewer than expected. Some economists say that, because the employment pool grows by 140,000 potential workers each month, any number far short of that figure can be seen as a warning sign. Here’s how to make sense of the data—whether you’re a worker, a job seeker, or an investor.

Job growth and low unemployment are good news, right?

Usually, yes. New jobs are for now keeping pace with the demand for them. That’s good for the labor force, but it’s also encouraging for investors because it means the economy is still clicking along, according to one of the most closely watched metrics. At the same time, it’s not growing so fast the Fed may back off from further interest rate cuts, which Wall Street is betting on in coming months.

For the most part, the financial markets greeted the news with a shrug. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up since the report came out on October 4, while the 10-year bond yield is largely unchanged.

But we’re a decade into the current economic expansion, and the rate of overall economic growth is slowing and could soon drop below last quarter’s 2% growth. Other indicators suggest a slowdown is imminent, such as a recent Fortune Analytics survey that suggest pessimism on the part of purchasing managers, and worries that manufacturing and service hiring may slow.

When economic growth cycles age long enough, they usually end in one of two ways. Either companies see a recession coming and trim jobs (becoming a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy), or interest rates stay too low for too long, inspiring speculation in business investment or market trading that leads to excess and a much harder landing. Put simply, the latter outcome is what led to the the last recession.

So is the U.S. economy overheating or slowing down?

That’s the trillion-dollar question, and the center of a debate the financial markets have been having in recent weeks. It’s complicated by the uncertainty surrounding U.S.-China trade relations, which have proven devilishly hard to predict. Resolving that trade dispute could lead to further economic growth. An escalated trade war could be a tipping point that sends the U.S. or other economies into recession.

Given such uncertainty, economists and investors have been giving extra-close scrutiny to the September jobs report, connecting its data points with other economic indicators to draw as clear a picture as they can for where the economy, and therefore the health of the financial markets, may be headed.

What exactly is the job and economic data telling us?

As you might guess, there’s no clear consensus on this, but rather a divide in views. Some see warning signs while others expect more economic growth, albeit at a slightly slower pace. It’s a lot like that old optical illusion that could be, depending on how your eyes see it, a duck or a rabbit. Or in this case, a bull or a bear.

A key question is, how long will companies keep hiring? The Labor Department said on October 9 that there were a little more than 7 million jobs open in August. That’s still more than enough to meet the demand of new people entering the U.S. workforce, but it’s 4.4% lower than it was a few months ago. If companies start cutting jobs or delaying hiring, the ratio of jobs to jobseekers could decline. And that may well happen soon. A majority of U.S. CFOs are expecting a recession in the next 12 months.

“The outlook for labor demand continues to darken,” Nick Bunker, an economist at employment site Indeed.com, wrote after the jobs report, noting that it gives “credence to the argument that the labor market slowdown is driven by employer demand.”

Why aren’t wages growing?

Another question centers on the rate of wage growth. In previous cycles, hourly wages have tended to increase as the labor market grows tighter. That’s not happening this time.

The September jobs report showed average hourly earnings fell one cent an hour to $28.09 an hour, the first month-to-month decline in nearly two years. On a year-over-year basis, wages rose a mere 2.9%, the slowest pace in 14 months. Factoring out inflation, that’s only a 1.2% increase in wages in the past year.

Much of that wage stagnation is happening in higher-paying jobs, however. The overall numbers obscure the rising wages that many restaurant and retail workers are seeing as some places raise the minimum wage. But conversely, that’s raising costs for many businesses.

“Restaurants, leisure, hospitality—that’s where a lot of the jobs have been created,” Ellen Zentner, Morgan Stanley's chief U.S. economist, said on Bloomberg Radio. “Restaurants have been complaining about having enough workers because when conditions get better the workers go somewhere else to get paid more.”

What does all this mean for manufacturing and services jobs?

One caveat about the employment report is that, as central as it is to economic forecasts, it’s more of a rear-view indicator. Corporate CFOs and hiring managers have a more forward-facing view. And their views are looking more bearish.

The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers Index for manufacturers came in at 47.8% in September, its lowest figure since the summer of 2009, and down from 49.1% in August. A PMI below 50% signals a contracting manufacturing sector. A similar ISM index for services companies also slipped to a lower-than-expected 52.6 in September from 56.4 in August.

Add to that a separate survey from IHS Market, which showed new business growth in the U.S. at its lowest level in a decade. “The past two months have seen one of the weakest back-to-back expansions of business activity since 2009, sending a signal of slower GDP growth in the third quarter,” Chris Williamson, IHS Markit’s chief business economist, said in a news release.

All together, the economic data leading up to and inside the latest jobs report paints an uncertain picture that, as it comes into clearer focus, shows an aging economy that's having a harder and harder time churning out new jobs.

That the current economic cycle will end is certain. The timing depends on what new data shows in coming weeks, as well as how the Fed acts on interest rates and how U.S. and China deal with the brewing trade way. For everyone else, it pays to keep a close watch on events—and to keep a window open for an easy escape once the bears in this fable finally show up.

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