Economy In Context: The March 2018 Jobs Numbers

It was surprising when Donald Trump’s cheerleaders latched onto the ADP Jobs Report and touted the 241,000 jobs created for March, a relatively strong number, in line with previous ADP monthly numbers. However, these cheerleaders apparently ignored the alarming National Franchise Report, which hit negative territory (in this case -100), far below the previous low for the 4 months prior (19,700 net jobs), representing a massive negative swing of almost 25,000 jobs net from the numbers from February. This simply isn’t good news for the Trump economy.

Then there’s the preliminary official Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs numbers released last Friday. While most of the pointy hats were predicting around 198,000 jobs for March, the economy missed that number substantially, coming in at only 103,000 net jobs, or only roughly half of the predicted 198,000 jobs. On top of this, the January Jobs Number was revised downward from 239,000 to 176,000 net jobs, and, even though the February Jobs Number was revised upward by 10,000 net jobs, this still set the Trump’s January and February numbers back by 50,000 net jobs, and continuing a trend of mediocre job creation.

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So what does this mean? Are we headed into a recession? It depends on who you ask. What it incontrovertibly means is that there remain serious underlying problems within the economy itself that remain unaddressed. Most notable of these problems is the wage inflation problem that is behind the decline in the physical retail sector, the restaurant sector, and, oddly enough, the very manufacturing sector that Trump seems to obsess over.

While the Trump Administration and the Republican Party have done a lot to try to unshackle the economy from Obama Era regulations (including the individual mandate of ObamaCare), the retail and restaurant industries are finally beginning to collapse under the weight of progressive wage policy (especially the “Fight for 15” nonsense). Rather than respond to this burgeoning labor crisis in two major industries that millions of Americans depend on for jobs, Trump has instead decided to engage in a high stakes game of trade war chicken with our single largest goods trading partner.

This has created not only an incredible amount of uncertainty in the American economy but has also put at risk the financial well being of tens of millions of American consumers, farmers, manufacturers, restaurateurs, and retailers who depend, one way or another, on access to the Chinese market, and, even though his supporters seem to believe otherwise, he simply doesn’t care at this point how it hurts people. He simply assumes that the American will tough it out, no matter how bad things get, and it doesn’t even occur to him that he has a duty not to cause this kind of harm in the first place.

However, let’s put all of this aside, for the moment and look one more time at the natural question posed earlier. Are we headed into a recession? The restaurant and retail sectors are already in recession, and, now that excess value in the stock market is bleeding off, once the excess value of stocks are gone, investors will have to take a good hard look at the rapidly declining capital value of retailers and restaurant chains and make a decision. When (not if) the struggling retail and restaurant sectors start bleeding into other industries, how badly will it domino?

 


Liberty is For the Win!

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