US Macro Updates

The One Stop Portal for US Macroeconomic Data. Simplified and Summarized! 

We simplify and summarize key data so that you don’t have to spend hours reading confusing and long media releases. Read key economic releases and major events here in under 2 minutes. And we will explain the key takeaway for you. Stay informed and form a robust view on macroeconomic matters to aid your successful investment decisions

3rd Nov 2023

US Non-Farm Payrolls

Key takeaway: After the previous month’s blockbuster jobs number, the NFP print for October was a modest one. Total non farm payroll increased by 150K in October against a consensus expectation of 180K. However, it would be prudent to not attribute significant importance to this weak jobs print. The weaker print can be partly attributed to employment in manufacturing decreasing substantially by 35K mostly reflecting a decline in motor vehicles and parts due to the recent strike activity. From the perspective of the Household Survey data, there wasn’t much of a change in either the unemployment rate of 3.9% or the number of unemployed persons at 6.5mn. The other key point to note was that August jobs were revised down by 62K and September was revised down by 39K. With these revisions, cumulatively job creation in August and September was lower by a sizeable 101K. Average hourly earnings rose a modest 0.2%. This was slightly lower than expectations and hence viewed favourably by market participants. Finally the last key point to note in the October jobs print was a small drop in the labour force participation rate from 62.8 to 62.7. While the drop was not large, it was the first reduction in over a year.   

6th Oct 2023

Key takeaway: After few months of modest NFP prints, we are back in familiar territory. Total non farm payroll increased by a whopping 336K in September. This was much higher than consensus estimates of around 170K. The hot NFP report also comes on the back of an equally hot JOLTS report a few days back. In an environment where long bond yields are burning higher, it adds further fuel to the fire. Employment continued to trend up in the leisure, hospitality and healthcare. Similar to last month, average hourly earnings increased a modest 0.2%. Increasing job growth with modest wage gains supports the soft landing narrative. The further icing on the cake was that past 2 months of job numbers were also revised substantially upward. The unemployment rate held at 3.8% and so did the labor force participation rate at 62.8%.  

1st Sep 2023

Key takeaway: Total non farm payroll increased by 187K in August. The print was just above the consensus estimate of approx. 170K. And that fell right in the sweet spot of market expectations – softer than the previous super charged readings of 250K plus which had been the feature of most of the past year, but yet not low enough to spook the market on recession fears. Employment continued to trend up in the leisure, hospitality and healthcare sectors – although the pace of increase has declined. Average hourly earnings increased 0.2% over the month and 4.3% over the year. This key number was also more or less in line with expectations and the market was relieved by that. The average work week also crept up marginally to 34.4 from 34.3 which caused average weekly earnings to rise. However, despite all these numbers, the key point to note in the Establishment Survey was the revision downward in the previous months’ jobs data. June was revised down by 80K – from 185K to 105K. Similarly July was revised down from 187K to 157K. With substantial revisions in the jobs data for the year, some market participants are beginning to doubt the actual strength of the tight labour market. Lastly, the Household Survey showed the unemployment rate rose substantially from 3.5% last month to 3.8% in August. The increase was mostly attributable to the rise in labour participation rate from 62.6% in July to 62.8% in August.  

4th Aug 2023

Key takeaway: After a massive upside surprise in ADP employment data the day before (just like the previous month of June), market participants were keenly watching NFP today to see if it would surprise to the upside as well. However, NFP came in lower than consensus expectations in July (187K vs 200K expected). Once again, similar to the previous month, jobs data for the previous 2 months was also revised down. However, even a 187K clip is a strong enough print which keeps the labor market situation tight. More importantly, average hourly earnings grew 0.4% m-o-m and 4.4% y-o-y. Both numbers were higher than consensus expectations. That is also indicative of continuing wage pressures. Lastly, average workweek for all employees on private non farm payrolls decreased slightly to 34.3 from 34.4 the previous month. This can generally indicate a broader slowdown in the economy as well. On the Household Survey, unemployment rate remained basically unchanged.  

7th Jul 2023

Key takeaway: After a massive upside surprise in ADP employment data the day before, market participants were keenly watching NFP to see if it would surprise to the upside as well. However, NFP came in much lower than consensus expectations in June (209K vs 225K expected). Jobs data for the past 2 months was also revised down by 110K. However, even with this lower print, the average monthly job creation in 1H 2023 has been a significant 278K. According to the Household survey, the unemployment rate remained relatively unchanged in Jun at 3.6%. However, it was key to note that U-6 (which is total unemployed including people employed part time for economic reasons) inched up higher from 6.7% to 6.9%. Lastly average hourly earnings growth remained still elevated at 0.4% over the previous month (annualized approx. 5%). In summary, the labour market still remains much too tight and annual wage gains much too high for the Fed’s comfort.  

2nd Jun 2023

Key takeaway: This US labour market probably has no parallel in US economic history. Month after month, everyone – including policy makers and market participants – keep expecting the labour market to wilt in the face of tighter monetary policy. And the labor market stands firm in response. The May NFP release showed that the US economy added a massive 339K jobs. Consensus expectations were a more sober 180K. The report also showed the last 2 months data being revised to add another 93K. Other positive indications coming out of this report included the softer than expected rise in average hourly earnings (0.3% vs 0.4% expected) and no drop in participation rate (remained at 62.6%). However, a feature which was common through many months of 2022 also returned back in May 2023 – the discrepancy in the job market presented by the Household Survey vs the Establishment Survey. The Household survey showed unemployment rate up by 0.3% to 3.7% in May. The number of unemployed persons increased by 440K! Usually the Household Survey tends to be more volatile than the Establishment survey – which is more comprehensive with a larger sample size. However, the market believes that the Fed is likely to ignore the large May NFP print (and the hot JOLTS print) and take a pause in the upcoming June meeting. 

5th May 2023

Key takeaway: The April payroll report headline was a significant payroll gain of 253K, exceeding consensus expectations. However, there were other details that were equally important to note. Firstly, Feb and Mar job numbers were revised down by a combined 149K. Thats a substantial revision down! The job gains continued to be dominated by leisure and hospitality (31K) and healthcase (40K). Employment was little changed in major industries like construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, etc. In other words, job gains were not broad-based. The dichotomy between the Establishment Survey and the Household Survey also continued. Employment, as per the Household Survey, increased only ~130K. The Unemployment Rate though, still held at a record low of 3.4%. It also did not help that the participation rate remained unchanged at 62.6%. Average hourly earnings increased 4.4% y-o-y. This key number was higher than consensus expectations of 4.2% – which indicates continuing wage pressures. The Fed will certainly be taking note of this number. Even more so, given the recently released hotter-than-expected Employment Cost Index for Q1 2023.  

7th Apr 2023

Key takeaway: The March payroll report, once again, was important. January and February had both been blowout jobs numbers. Hence, market participants were keen to observe if the strong jobs trend would continue. The March jobs number, while in line with expectations, was substantially lower (236K) than Jan and Feb – indicating a moderating job market. JOLTs data released earlier in the week also showed a reduction in job openings from 10.5mn to 9.9mn (Feb 2023). There were also some other key points to takeaway from this report. Firstly, private sector payrolls have been reducing substantially – even over the past 3 months (353K Jan to 266K Feb to 189K Mar). Most of the job gains were in Leisure and Hospitality, Healthcare and Government sectors – indicating that the job gains are not broadbased. Average hourly earnings grew at 0.3% m-o-m or 4.2% y-o-y. The Fed wants to see this number come down below 4%. Average workweek for all employees also edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in March. Lastly, one of the key positives from the report was the tick up in participation rate (although still below pre-pandemic rate of 63.4). Overall, the report was neutral on all counts – on the balance though, indicating a slowdown.  

10th Mar 2023

Key takeaway: A ton of market participants were looking forward to the Feb payroll number to also gauge if the blowout 517K number in Jan was a one off event driven by seasonal factors. That turned out to be a false hope. Feb payroll was not as high as Jan – but still beat expectations by quite a margin. 311K vs expectations of 205K. Also, the revision downward on the Jan number was not substantial. While the headline jobs number was still large, the other indicators in the NFP report pointed towards a slowing labour market. Unemployment rate inched up from 3.4% to 3.6%. The average hourly earnings rate increased 0.2% m-o-m vs 0.3% expected. Lastly average weekly hours worked also fell from 34.6 to 34.5. However, overall there weren’t many positives to draw from this report from a disinflationary perspective and taken together with the 10.8mn latest JOLTS numbers, this will keep the pressure on the Fed to tighten further at the upcoming meetings (financial stability risks notwithstanding!). 

3rd Feb 2023

Key takeaway: An absolute stunner! No better way to describe this. What’s even more amazing is the markets’ reaction to the jobs data. Despite the fact that this puts some doubt into the terminal FF rate destination, equity markets are continuing the jubilant mood of January and have retraced the 1% loss (S&P500) by mid day. 517K jobs is a blowout number by any standards! What else do we need to know about the report. The November and December jobs data was revised upwards by a cumulative 72K as well. The unemployment rate fell to a 40 year low of 3.4%! Participation rate ticked up marginally to 62.4% from 62.3. Average hourly earnings (the number that really sparked this January mega rally in risk assets) came in as expected at 0.3% but were slightly higher (4.4%) compared to consensus (4.3%) on a y-o-y basis. Moreover the December number was revised upwards from 0.3% to 0.4%! The average work week increased a substantial quantum from 34.4 to 34.7. This massive jobs number together with the increase (again) of JOLTs data really puts a lot of pressure on the Feb CPI data release. Any hint of inflation rising or even remaining sticky in the next couple of inflation reports will spin the rates market on its head! 

6th Jan 2023

Key takeaway: This was no doubt a blockbuster jobs report. Headline Payrolls rose 233K when expectations were approx. 200K. And that brings the total jobs created in 2022 to 4.5 million ! Top that up with the fact that the unemployment rate fell back down to 3.5% from 3.7%. Lastly, the usual dichotomy observed between the Establishment Survey and the Household Survey was absent as well. Total employed persons, per the Household Survey, also increased from 158.5mn to 159.2mn. But the most important datapoint in the latest jobs report that the market chose so heavily to focus on was average hourly earnings – which rose 0.3% m-o-m against expectations of 0.4%. That translates to 4.6% annual increase in hourly earnings – not very far from the 3-4% level that the Fed might be comfortable with as it vigorously pursues its goal of preventing a wage price spiral. However, as Larry Summers has nicely explained here, the m-o-m data tends to be a little volatile and it might be more preferable to examine the Employment Cost Index data for Q4 2022 that will come out later in the month. Separately, even though it seems like a small change, it is key to note that the average weekly hours has fallen 2 months in a row. 

2nd Dec 2022

Key takeaway: The juggernaut that is the US labour market continued its show of strength in November as well. Headline job creation at 263K was a screaming beat against consensus expectations for 200K! The average job creation in 2022 thus far has been 392K per month. But the most important number in today’s release was not headline job creation. It was average hourly earnings. Which increased 0.6% m-o-m and 5.1% y-o-y. Like I have mentioned before, its really is wage inflation that the Fed is most concerned about! However, on the other hand, the dichotomy between the Establishment Survey and the Household Survey also continued in November. While the Establishment Survey shows 263K jobs added, the number of employed people as per the Household Survey barely changed. In fact it has barely changed since the last 8 months! This is a critical point and often gets obscured by the more widely followed non-farm payroll headline number. Lastly, labour force participation remains dismal at 62.1%. It has become very evident from recent Powell speeches that the Fed has given up hope on the participation rate moving higher. Put differently, if supply of labour is unlikely to increase, the Fed has to double down on quashing demand. 

4th Nov 2022

Key takeaway: The headline job creation number at 261K was a screaming beat! The average job creation in 2022 has been north of 350K per month when roughly on average 50K of adults get added to the workforce every month. That helps put into context the 2 to 1 jobs to unemployed ratio that we have seen for most of the year. However, there were also some other points to note in the October BLS release. While the Establishment Survey pointed to net job gains of 261K, the number of unemployed actually grew by 306K compared to September according to the Household Survey. In fact the total employed population over the age of 16 at 158.6mn has not changed at all since March 22. This is a critical point and often gets obscured by the more widely followed non-farm payroll headline number. The markets also seemed to like that fact that y-o-y growth in average hourly earnings fell below 5% since December 2021. However, on a m-o-m basis, average hourly earnings picked up pace growing at 0.4% in October compared to 0.3% in September. Moreover labour force participation ticked lower to 62.3% – continuing to pour cold water on Chair Powell’s hopes of workers returning to the labour force. Overall, the report had more points to be worried about than the other way round!

7th Oct 2022

Key takeaway: Even though September job creation was one of the lowest numbers in the recent months, it was still way to high to give even a small hint of labor market loosening. No wonder the Dow fell 600 points as investors further realize that the Fed will grow more resolute in tightening. Every other detail in the NFP report was a similar tune as well. Participation rate did not increase. Average workweek remained the same. Average hourly earnings were still elevated at 0.3% m-o-m. The Household survey had shown a large increase in the number of unemployed persons in August which had suggested some possibility of layoffs. But this number was back down in this month’s survey.    

2nd Sep 2022

Key takeaway: There were a number of key points to note in the August jobs report. Firstly, NFP grew 315K in August. Expectations were approx. 300K. So right in line. The advantage of a number like this – unlike the last 2 months – is that its is high enough to indicate a strong economy but not high enough to make the Fed worry about further overheating in the jobs market. The other big point was Participation Rate, which ticked up meaningfully 62.1 to 62.4. Still a whole percentage point below pre-covid levels, but almost a percentage point about mid 2021 levels! This is one of the main pillars that Chair Powell is banking on to counter wage inflation pressures. On the downside, the number of unemployed persons grew by a large number 344K, in the Household Survey. While unemployment claims have steadily increased, they have not yet started indicating meaningful signs of a job recession. Hence, a large increased in the number of unemployed persons in the Household survey is key to note.    

5th Aug 2022

Key takeaway: Rip-roaring, Electrifying, Mind-boggling, Hair-raising…. I fall short of adjectives to describe the July jobs number! 528K instead of an expected 250K! More than 2x! Another point to note – June was revised upwards from 372K to 398K as well. In simple words, this just makes the Fed’s job that much harder and puts a 75 basis points hike back on the table for the September meeting. However, it also truly lends some credence to “the soft landing” theory and shows a still resilient economy. Need to watch revisions to this number in the coming months as well.   

8th Jul 2022

Key takeaway: This is still a cracker of a number! Frankly speaking, a slightly lower number may have been positive for equity markets. Instead, the number reinforces a solid labour market and will strengthen Fed’s resolve to keep at it on the rates front. No wonder treasury yields are up sharply and the 10 year once again above 3%. Similarly, it is also key to note that the anaemic participation rate shows no signs of improvement. Put that together with the Fed meeting minutes which showed that the FOMC members have pretty much given up on the participation rate going up.  

3rd Jun 2022

Key takeaway: Even in the previous month of April, jobs creation outperformed consensus estimates and the equity markets dropped in reaction. Today was no different. In another macro backdrop, outperforming jobs gains would have been positive for the equity markets – not right now! 390K jobs added in May compared to estimates of 318K.

There were a few other points to note. Average hourly earnings growth remained steady at 0.3% mom. In other words, a positive that it did not increase! Participation rate edged up to 62.3%. A modest increase but an increase nonetheless. The Fed has squarely wage inflation signs on its tracker lens and the only way to beat it without killing the economy off is by increasing the labour supply. Lastly, employment in Retail Trade sector fell notably by 61K. This shows job losses in general merchandise stores, clothing stores, food, beverage, healthcare stores, etc. 

6th May 2022

Key takeaway: You can be excused if you simply ignored the April NFP report and just referred to the March report instead. You would not have missed much! For anyone looking for a silver lining in the April NFP data – there simply was none! Unemployment rate remains low, job creation remains high, average hourly earnings still increasing at a pretty high rate causing genuine labour inflation concerns, people still missing from the active workforce evidenced by a low participation rate. And this disappointment reflected in the equity markets on Friday. It is amazing that in an all-together different macro environment, 430K jobs added would have been a positive development. Not in this one! 

1st Apr 2022

Key takeaway: Logjam at ports? Lockdowns in Shanghai? Now the Fed cant do anything about that. But, wages increasing 5.6% yoy? The Fed can tamp that down… and it will! Payrolls increased 431,000 in March. A bit less than expected, but large enough to grease the wheels of a 50 basis points May hike. Also, and very importantly, there wasn’t a material enough increase in labour force participation. The challenging hunt for labour for businesses and the upward pressure on wages continues unabated. 

4th Mar 2022

Key takeaway: 678,000! Thats big! Reinforces the view that the labor market is strong. However, importantly, average hourly earnings were little changed from last month. Its is key to see how wage gains move from here on. Remember – on an inflation adjusted basis, wages are falling and so will consumer spending if this trend continues. Overall, the report strengthens the case for tightening monetary policy.

4th Feb 2022

Key takeaway: Labor momentum is definitely strong. Bolsters the case for March rate hike. But keep an eye on the average hours worked. Average hours worked trending down is a deflationary signal

  • Added 467,000 jobs in January, beating estimates of 125,000
  • Unemployment rate increased marginally from 3.9% to 4%
  • US Participation rate increased marginally to 62.2% from 61.9% in December 2021
  • Average hourly earnings increased 5.7% over last 12 months
  • Average workweek for all employees on US private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.2 hour to 34.5 hours in January of 2022, the lowest since April of 2020, compared with market expectations of 34.7 hours