|Employment Cost Index
|Released On 10/31/2018 8:30:00 AM For Q3:18
|ECI – Q/Q change
||0.5 % to 0.8 %
|ECI – Y/Y change
The employment cost index continues to signal elevated price pressures for labor, up 0.8 percent in the third-quarter for a year-on-year rate of 2.8 percent. The quarterly rate is the highest of the expansion, matched twice before in the first quarter this year and the first quarter last year, while the yearly rate is also an expansion high, matched once in the second-quarter of this year.
Among components, the cost of wages & salaries rose a quarterly 0.9 percent which is also an expansion high and the second such reading in three quarters. This yearly rate is up 1 tenth at 2.9 percent in what is a new expansion high. In contrast, however, benefit costs moderated and sharply, up only 0.4 percent in the quarter vs 0.9 percent in the second quarter and down 3 tenths on the year to 2.6 percent.
The slowing in benefit costs is a plus in today’s report and that helps offset the acceleration in wages. This report probably won’t turn up the heat for accelerated rate hikes from the Federal Reserve which watches this report with special focus.
Increasing pressure is expected for the employment cost index with Econoday’s consensus at a 0.7 percent rise in the third quarter compared to 0.6 percent in the second quarter. The year-on-year rate in the second quarter, at 2.8 percent, was the highest in 10 years in what was a strong signal of wage pressures in the labor market.
|Released On 9/27/2018 8:30:00 AM For Q2(r):18
|After-tax Profits – Y/Y change
After-tax corporate profits rose a year-on-year 6.4 percent in the second quarter to $1.962 trillion without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments. This is revised from an initial estimate of 6.7 percent. Pretax profits on this basis were $2.197 trillion for an outright year-on-year decline of 0.1 percent that, in comparison to the strong gain for after-tax profits, underscores the significant effect of this year’s corporate tax cut.
When including inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments, pre-tax corporate profits rose a year-on-year 7.3 percent to $2.242 trillion with after-tax profits at $2.008 trillion for a 15.8 percent gain. Taxes on corporate income, at $234.8 billion and which are calculated on this basis, fell 34.0 percent from the second quarter of 2017 which is a decisive measurement of this year’s corporate tax cut.
Existing Home Sales
Existing home sales miss Econoday’s consensus for a fifth month in a row, coming in at a 5.340 million annualized rate in August which is unchanged from July and compared with expectations for 5.360 million. In what could be considered good news in today’s report, the zero change marks an end to four prior months of slowing.
Both single-family homes, at a 4.750 million rate, and condos at 590,000 are unchanged in August’s data. Year-on-year total sales are down 1.5 percent with single-family homes down 1.0 percent and condos 4.8 percent lower.
Zeros are wild in today’s report with supply on the market also unchanged, at 1.920 million. On a sales basis, supply is unchanged at 4.3 months for a third month in a row.
Sellers were offering discounts in the month with the median price down 1.7 percent to $264,000. Year-on-year, the median is up 4.7 percent which looks rich compared to the yearly decline in sales.
Regional sales data show another bad month for the West, down 5.9 percent in August, and a 7.6 percent gain for the Northeast. On the year, the West brings up the rear at minus 7.4 percent with the South in front but at only a 1.8 percent gain.
However strong the economy and stock market are, the nation’s housing sector is not participating which is a negative for household wealth. New home sales for August, to be released Wednesday, will be a highlight of next week’s calendar.
Job openings are absolutely surging while hiring is falling further behind. Openings jumped 1.7 percent in July to 6.939 million to easily top Econoday’s consensus range. Hires, after posting a 1.2 percent decline in June, came in unchanged in July at 5.679 million.
Year-on-year, openings are up 11.9 percent with hirings up only 3.3 percent with the latter now having fallen for three months in a row. The widening gap between openings and hires strongly suggests that employers are having a hard time finding employees with the right qualifications.
The number of openings, for the first time on record, moved past the number of people actively looking for work in March this year. This gap also keeps widening and stood at 659,000 in July and raises the risk of wage pressures as slack disappears in the available workforce.
Another sign of pressure, one watched by Jerome Powell, is the quits rate in this report which, up 1 tenth to 2.4 percent, is on the rise and what points to increasing willingness of those with jobs to look for better work.
A solid rise in residential spending offset a mixed showing for non-housing components and made for a 0.1 percent July rise in overall construction spending to barely come within Econoday’s consensus range. Residential spending rose 0.6 percent but July’s gain was entirely centered in home improvements which jumped 2.1 percent to offset outright declines of 0.3 percent in single-family homes and 0.4 percent for multi-families.
Private non-residential spending fell 1.0 percent in the month, pulled down by a sharp fall in commercial projects, where spending has been uneven in recent months, that offset a fourth straight sharp gain in transportation. Public spending on educational building and highways & streets posted gains following declines in June.
Year-on-year rates help underline what is a healthy rate of growth in construction spending, up 5.8 percent overall with residential spending up 6.7 percent and both private nonresidential and public categories showing low to mid single digit gains. Nevertheless, reports out of housing have been uneven and are clouded further by the declines in single- and multi-family homes in this report.
Strength in consumer spending was shaved slightly while contraction in residential investment deepened slightly, factors however outweighed by upward revisions to both nonresidential fixed investment and government purchases with revisions to inventories and net exports also slightly favorable. The net result is a 2 tenths upward revision to second-quarter GDP to a 4.2 percent annualized rate.
Consumer spending is now at a 3.8 percent growth rate vs 4.0 percent in the first estimate. Spending on both durables and non-durables was lowered, to a still enormously strong 8.6 percent for the former and to 3.7 percent for the latter, with spending on services unchanged at 3.1 percent.
Residential investment was at minus 1.1 percent in the first estimate and is now at minus 1.6 percent in the second estimate. Nonresidential fixed investment gets a sizable 1.2 percentage point upgrade to an enormously strong 8.5 percent with components for equipment, now at 4.4 percent, and intellectual property, at 11.0 percent, both revised higher.
Inventories subtracted a little less while net exports added a little more. Government purchases are upgraded 2 tenths to a 2.3 percent growth rate.
Price readings are little changed with the overall index steady at an elevated 3.0 percent with the core 1 tenth higher at 2.8 percent. These readings had been subdued before shifting higher in the second quarter underscoring the risk of overshooting by the Fed.
The second quarter, in fact, was very strong led by consumer spending, where gains reflected strong demand for labor and also this year’s tax cut, and also by business spending which has been getting a lift from this year’s corporate tax cut. Exports were also very strong in the quarter.
The early outlook right now for the third quarter is mixed as goods exports sunk back in July in a negative offset by what looks to be a sharp rise in July inventories. Initial indications on consumer spending from the July retail sales report are positive. Watch for more third-quarter GDP inputs, including for inflation, in Thursday’s personal income & outlays report for July.