What’s in an Employment Report?

February
09

Written by: Jon McGraw

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation Summary was full of encouraging data. Employment numbers for November and December were revised higher, which made 2014 the strongest year for job growth since 1999. However, 2015 isn’t off to a shabby start. The economy added just over a quarter of a million jobs in January. In addition, Barron’s reported:

“Wages for private-sector workers ticked higher in January, rising 0.5% from December and 2.2% year-over-year. That sort of growth must persist to indicate a trend, but it is a promising sign, and one that could quell chatter about deflation in the U.S. The good news doesn’t end there. Low gas prices could save the average household $750 this year, and household net worth remains near an all-time high. It’s no wonder consumer confidence hit its highest level last month in more than seven years.”

Consumers are happy. Workers are happy. Who’s not happy? The answer may be companies and investors. Barron’s speculated workers’ gains could come at the expense of corporate profits.

Last week, FactSet.com reported analysts are expecting to see year-over-year declines in both the overall earnings and revenues of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index during the first half of 2015. The downward revisions primarily reflect the expected performance of companies in the energy sector. While prospects for the first half of 2015 have dimmed a bit, analysts are expecting profit margins to expand and companies to have record earnings per share, overall, during the second half of 2015.

Data as of 2/6/15 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) 3.0% -0.2% 15.9% 15.2% 14.2% 5.5%
10-Year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 1.9 NA 2.7 1.9 3.6 4.1
Gold (Per Ounce) -1.5 3.5 -1.2 -10.3 3.1 11.6
Bloomberg Commodity Index 1.8 -1.6 -19.9 -11.1 -4.3 -3.2
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -1.4 4.7 29.7 14.9 19.7 9.4

What Is the Most Common Job in the United States?

In the late 1970s and early ’80s, secretary would have taken top honors in more than one-half of the United States. Machine operators and factory workers were in demand then, too. However, since then, personal computers have made secretarial work less prevalent, and technology and globalization erased many manufacturing positions in the United States.

Since the mid-’80s, truck driving has become the most common occupation in most states, according to National Public Radio. One reason is that, so far, truck driving has been relatively unaffected by globalization and automation. As NPR reported, “A worker in China can’t drive a truck in Ohio, and machines can’t drive cars (yet).”

If you’re looking for recession-proof jobs (take that with a grain of salt—the Titanic was billed as being unsinkable), CareerProfiles.com reported the following industries are expected to have the greatest job growth during the next decade:

  • Sales and finance (marketing managers and financial managers)
  • Computer software (systems software engineers)
  • Engineering (chemical, electrical, mechanical and civil engineers)
  • Computer systems (systems analysts)
  • Finance/accounting (financial analysts, accountants)
  • Education (certified teachers, teaching assistants and aides)

The U.S. government’s predictions for the fastest-growing jobs through 2022 are slightly different. The top occupations on that list include:

  • Industrial-organizational psychologists
  • Personal care aides
  • Home health aides
  • Insulation workers, mechanical
  • Interpreters and translators

Other fields with good prospects include energy and the environment, health care and security.

Weekly Fun—Think About It

“The Eskimos had 52 names for snow because it was important to them; there ought to be as many for love.”

—Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist