The numbers are out! What do the latest U.S. jobs figures mean for September Fed rate hike bets and the U.S. dollar’s forex price trends? Here are the takeaways from the latest NFP report:
1. Headline figure came up short
Forex market analysts already set the bar pretty low for the June NFP report, projecting that the economy probably added only 231,000 jobs during the month. Even so, the actual figure still missed the mark when it indicated that hiring picked up by a meager 223,000 in June.
On a more positive note, the Labor Department pointed out that employment gains were seen across almost all economic sectors, except for the mining industry. Due to the ongoing slowdown in the energy industry, mining companies shed 3,000 jobs in June, a slower pace of decline compared to May’s 18,000 in layoffs.
2. Negative revisions in previous data
If you think that the headline NFP figure was disappointing enough, well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Downgrades were seen for the previous releases, with the May figure revised from 280,000 to 254,000 and the April reading lowered from 221,000 to 187,000, amounting to a total of 60,000 in negative revisions for the past months.
3. Sharp decline in labor force participation
Not even the drop in the unemployment rate from 5.5% to 5.3% – its lowest level since April 2008 – was enough to turn Uncle Sam’s frown upside down since this was caused by a sharp drop in labor force participation. As it turns out, the participation rate declined from 62.9% to 62.6% – its lowest level since October 1977 – while 432,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force in June.
In short, you’ve got fewer people staying in the labor force and even fewer ones still actively looking for work. This could be interpreted as a sign that more Americans are feeling discouraged about their job prospects, but economists also noted that this could be a result of the retirement of baby boomers. Apparently, the data suggests that an increasing number of prime-age workers (individuals between 25 to 54 years old) have been dropping out of the labor force, presumably to take care of family duties.
4. Lack of wage growth
To make things worse, there were hardly any signs of wage growth in June, as the average hourly earnings figure fell flat during the month. Aside from that, the previously reported 0.3% uptick in May was downgraded to just 0.2%.
According to a few state and local governments, they’ve already raised the minimum wage for their employees while some surveys showed that entry-level salaries for college graduates are gradually increasing. Even Walmart, which is the country’s largest private employer, has increased wages twice this year. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that significant wage declines recorded in the mining, manufacturing, and construction industries offset the gains in other sectors.
5. Improvements in other underlying labor figures
The June NFP report wasn’t all bad, though, as some of the underlying labor indicators did show decent improvements. For one, the U6 unemployment rate, which is considered a broader measure of joblessness since it takes into consideration those part-time workers who can’t work full-time because of economic reasons, has improved from 10.8% to 10.5%.
In addition, the number of discouraged workers has declined to its lowest level since October 2008. Long-term unemployment has been gradually falling as well, nearing levels not seen since the worst of the financial recession in 2008, while Americans also reported shorter periods of being unemployed.
6. Weaker September rate hike expectations?
Judging by the U.S. dollar’s forex reaction to the June NFP release, it seems that the jobs figures threw cold water on September rate hike expectations. Most forex market watchers had been counting on another impressive reading to seal the deal for Fed tightening in a few months, but the disappointing results and the downgrades led some to postpone their rate hike forecasts to December.
Bear in mind that Fed officials are currently keeping close tabs on employment trends while making their monetary policy decisions. The latest NFP report suggests that the U.S. economy is still on the right track but that the labor market recovery has been unable to sustain its strong momentum from earlier this year. With that, the Greenback could continue to tread carefully against its forex counterparts in the coming weeks, although it still has risk sentiment working in its favor for the time being.