f
  •  
 Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Hundreds of people line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Hundreds of people line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort

By Howard Schneider

(Reuters) - The U.S. economic recovery continued to hunt for traction over the past week with high frequency data on employment and retail traffic moving at a stodgy pace, pointing to a long trip back to normal.

Data released Friday on the August unemployment rate will show just how U.S. labor market repair has proceeded since a surprisingly strong jump in jobs in May and June, followed by more muted job growth in July.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 881,000 last week, a drop of 130,000 from the week before. However nearly 30 million Americans were claiming some form of unemployment benefit in mid-August and, excluding statistical changes to account for seasonal patterns, the number of initial claims has risen for three weeks, noted Indeed https://www.hiringlab.org/2020/08/31/job-postings-through-august-28 Hiring Lab economist AnnElizabeth Konkel.

"Nearly six months into the pandemic, this is an alarming trend," she wrote in an analysis.

Data provided by time management firm Homebase https://joinhomebase.com/data showed employment falling slightly at a sample of small businesses through the week ending Aug. 30. Company data since January show the limits of labor market repair so far, with small businesses across cities stuck in a range with around 80% of the workers they had on average in the first two months of the year.

Shifts worked at a broader set of industries continued to expand only slowly, according to data provided by Kronos https://www.kronos.com/about-us/newsroom/update-us-workforce-activity - a result consistent with disappointing results from payroll provider ADP this week pointing to slower-than-expected job growth in August.

Graphic: Employment in real time - https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/REOPENING/gjnvwxamxpw/chart.png

JOB POSTINGS UP, HEALTH METRICS IMPROVE

Adjusting for the seasonal return of school staff, Kronos data showed the growth in shifts at retail stores, manufacturing plants, health facilities and elsewhere grew just half a percent for the week ending Aug. 30, still 10% short of pre-pandemic levels. While that was pulled down by closures related to Hurricane Laura, it was the sixth consecutive week of shift growth below 1% and "much slower than what we’ve experienced at any other point in the recovery," said Dave Gilbertson, vice president of strategy and operations at Kronos.

By many measures the recovery does continue to chug forward through a persistent pandemic, based on a variety of high frequency data series economists and policymakers have turned to for insight on the health crisis.

New job postings aggregated from online and company websites by Chmura http://www.chmuraecon.com/blog Economics are now just below their March 1 level, a sign companies still see reasons to bring employees back.

New York Fed data tracking overall gross domestic product continued a steady rise, while an Oxford http://blog.oxfordeconomics.com/topic/recovery-tracker Economics recovery index including health, economic and social statistics increased for the fourth straight week. It was edging near where it was in mid-March when the economic impact of the pandemic was just being felt.

But the details are telling. The index's health and mobility metrics both improved - the daily growth in cases has eased in recent weeks and people are moving about more.

Graphic: NY Fed Weekly Economic Index - https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/WEI/xklpyzdyyvg/chart.png

Graphic: Oxford Economics Recovery Index - https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/OXFORDINDEX/rlgpdlnyepo/chart.png

August ended with roughly 1.45 million new cases in the month, down from July's record increase of around 1.95 million, according to a Reuters tally https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-USA/0100B5K8423/index.html.

But people are driving, still not flying, noted Oxford chief U.S. economist Gregory Daco, and "disappointingly, demand and employment have stalled ... Stronger restaurant activity was offset by weaker retail, recreation and hotel demand along with reduced credit card spending."

Data from restaurant reservation site OpenTable has shown a rise in activity at restaurants in recent weeks. But it remains just over half what it was as of the first of March, two weeks before a declaration of national emergency and orders in many states and cities for businesses to close temporarily.

Combined, the data point to a vexing problem for the economy going forward. Even as states lift restrictions on commerce, stores try to reopen and health measures improve, consumers may not be so fast to resume their old ways, and firms may adapt to scaled-down demand by bringing fewer workers back.

Overall spending for example was higher in July than it was a year ago, and data on visits to retail locations from cellphone tracking firms Unacast https://www.unacast.com/covid19/covid-19-retail-impact-scoreboard and Safegraph https://www.safegraph.com/dashboard/covid19-commerce-patterns have steadily improved. Through last weekend Safegraph in particular showed retail foot traffic near where it was on March 1.

But the expiration of government unemployment insurance benefits alone has sapped roughly $18 billion a week in income from consumers, many of them in low- to middle-income households that are more likely to spend the dollars they receive.

Graphic: Retail in real time - https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/REOPEN/yzdvxxyzlvx/chart.png


Other relevant articles 
[2020-09-03 17:20:06] Bank of England says regulators must keep ahead of stablecoins
[2020-09-03 13:10:06] Stock Futures Lower, Consolidating Ahead of Claims Data
[2020-09-03 12:25:06] Facebook partners with two more companies ahead of FTC hearing on...
[2020-09-03 09:35:06] European shares open higher ahead of service-sector data
[2020-09-02 22:05:08] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for September 3
[2020-09-02 12:50:12] Tech stocks boost futures ahead of private payrolls data
[2020-09-02 00:35:07] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for September 2
[2020-09-02 00:10:07] Euro Rejects 1.20, More Losses Ahead?
[2020-09-01 22:20:05] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for September 2
[2020-09-01 13:15:03] Exclusive: Hackers test defenses of Trump campaign websites ahead...
[2020-09-01 09:25:02] European shares open higher ahead of manufacturing, inflation...
[2020-08-31 22:30:24] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for September 1
[2020-08-31 13:25:22] Commodities Week Ahead: Gold Hinges On Jobs Data, Oil Sees Reprieve
[2020-08-31 13:10:22] Apple, Tesla bid up ahead of share split open
[2020-08-30 21:50:19] Montenegro ruling DPS party just ahead of pro-Serb alliance -pollster
[2020-08-30 16:05:18] Week Ahead: More Equity Records After Dovish Fed; USD Weaker, Gold...
[2020-08-30 13:30:19] Precious Metals & Energy - Weekly Review and Calendar Ahead
[2020-08-28 00:30:11] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 28
[2020-08-27 22:05:08] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 28
[2020-08-27 15:05:12] Wall Street futures fall as jobless claims hover at one million...
[2020-08-27 14:40:07] Opening Bell: Futures, Stocks Edge Lower; Yields Waver; USD Dips Ahead...
[2020-08-27 13:25:06] Dow Futures Fall 80 Points Ahead of Powell Speech
[2020-08-27 10:10:06] European Stocks Drift Ahead of Powell Speech; Rolls-Royce Slumps
[2020-08-27 09:45:25] European stocks lower ahead of Powell speech, banks weigh
[2020-08-27 08:40:20] European Stocks Seen Lower Ahead of Key Powell Speech
[2020-08-27 06:10:06] Dollar Down Ahead of Powell Speech
[2020-08-27 04:00:09] Oil Down, Producers Batten Down the Hatches Ahead of Hurricane...
[2020-08-26 23:50:08] U.S. Dollar Dips Ahead Of Jackson Hole – What To Expect From Powell
[2020-08-26 22:10:08] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 27
[2020-08-26 20:25:07] Pound Up Against Dollar, but Set for Speed Bumps Ahead on Brexit...
[2020-08-26 19:35:07] Roku Up as Citi Sees Growth Ahead; Netflix Also Higher
[2020-08-26 17:30:08] 3 Cloud-Based Tech Stocks Seeing Surging Demand Ahead Of Quarterly...
[2020-08-26 14:15:07] Opening Bell: Futures, Stocks Mixed Ahead Of Key Fed Meeting;...
[2020-08-26 09:05:09] Dollar Edges Higher; Gains Shaky Ahead of Jackson Hole
[2020-08-26 04:00:09] Brent rises on U.S. output cuts ahead of biggest storm threat in...
[2020-08-26 00:35:07] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 26
[2020-08-25 22:20:04] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 26
[2020-08-24 22:25:24] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 25
[2020-08-24 21:40:27] Texas Oil Refineries Shutter Ahead of Double Storm Set to Pummel
[2020-08-24 21:30:24] Dollar Holds Near Session Highs as Bears Ease Grip Ahead of...
[2020-08-24 16:10:31] Protesters scuffle with police in Charlotte ahead of Republican...
[2020-08-24 14:45:22] Commodities Week Ahead: Gold, Oil Hunt For Clues From Fed, Virus...
[2020-08-23 20:20:19] BHP ramping down, evacuating Gulf of Mexico platforms ahead of storms
[2020-08-23 15:40:20] Week Ahead: Despite Murky Economic Path, Dow Jones Could Hit New...
[2020-08-23 12:10:18] Precious Metals & Energy - Weekly Review and Calendar Ahead
[2020-08-22 07:20:14] Murray admits to rustiness ahead of ATP return
[2020-08-21 06:15:10] Facebook pushes for data portability legislation ahead of FTC...
[2020-08-21 00:30:11] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 21
[2020-08-20 23:15:10] Trump slams Biden in his birthplace ahead of Democratic...
[2020-08-20 22:25:08] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 21
[2020-08-20 13:15:06] Stocks - U.S. Futures Lower Ahead of Jobless Claims; Dow Futures Down 85 Pts
[2020-08-19 22:45:09] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 20
[2020-08-19 09:15:07] Forex - Dollar Weakens Ahead of Fed Minutes; Sterling Gains
[2020-08-19 00:35:07] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 19
[2020-08-18 22:25:04] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 19
[2020-08-18 15:25:11] Crude Oil Prices Trade Sideways Ahead of API Inventory Check
[2020-08-18 12:55:03] Currencies Break Link With Stocks to Warn of Turbulence Ahead
[2020-08-17 22:15:40] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 18
[2020-08-17 16:40:52] Nvidia Rises as Analysts See Strong Results Ahead
[2020-08-17 16:35:22] Commodities Week Ahead: Gold Sees Tougher Climb Back Up; Oil Awaits...
[2020-08-17 13:10:22] Wall Street futures tick up ahead of big retail earnings week
[2020-08-17 02:10:21] Stock futures point to modest Wall Street gains ahead of big retail earnings...
[2020-08-17 01:35:22] U.S. coronavirus death toll hits 170,000 ahead of fall flu season
[2020-08-16 18:30:20] Week Ahead: Equity Highs In Question Amid Slowing Recovery, COVID...
[2020-08-16 15:45:19] Week Ahead: Equity Highs In Question Amid Slowing Recovery, COVID...
[2020-08-16 11:25:17] Precious Metals & Energy - Weekly Review and Calendar Ahead
[2020-08-14 21:35:12] Wall Street Week Ahead: Biden victory? Disputed election? Wall Street prices in November outcomes
[2020-08-14 19:50:11] Exclusive: China ramps up U.S. oil purchases ahead of trade deal...
[2020-08-14 05:30:11] Asian stocks falter after China data disappointment
[2020-08-14 00:30:11] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 14
[2020-08-14 00:25:26] Proxy adviser ISS to push ahead with lawsuit against SEC over new rule
[2020-08-13 22:40:08] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 14
[2020-08-13 22:20:08] U.S. Dollar In Tug Of War Ahead Of Retail Sales
[2020-08-13 13:10:07] Stocks - U.S. Futures Lower Ahead of Jobless Claims; Dow Futures Down 14 Pts
[2020-08-13 07:10:06] 3 Retail Stocks To Bet On And 1 To Avoid Ahead Of Earnings  
[2020-08-12 22:20:08] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 13
[2020-08-12 17:10:07] Roku Rises as Deutsche Bank Sees High Growth Ahead in Streaming
[2020-08-12 00:35:07] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 12
[2020-08-11 22:20:06] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 12
[2020-08-11 14:30:04] UK PM Johnson warns: there will be bumpy months ahead
[2020-08-11 10:10:02] Seattle reduces police funding, signals deeper cuts ahead
[2020-08-11 02:15:26] Auto union, Sanders clash ahead of Democratic convention
[2020-08-10 22:35:29] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 11
[2020-08-10 17:00:27] Saudi Aramco to press ahead with plan to boost output capacity,...
[2020-08-10 16:35:22] Commodities Week Ahead: Gold, Silver In Bid To Claw Back Highs; Oil...
[2020-08-09 15:50:19] Week Ahead: Conflicting Trade Vs. Stimulus Themes To Whipsaw Stocks,...
[2020-08-09 15:25:23] Week Ahead: Conflicting Trade Vs. Stimulus Themes To Whipsaw Stocks,...
[2020-08-09 13:15:18] Precious Metals & Energy - Weekly Review and Calendar Ahead
[2020-08-09 05:55:20] MotoGP detects first coronavirus case ahead of Czech race
[2020-08-08 22:30:16] Belarus opposition member detained ahead of presidential election: campaign team
[2020-08-07 23:10:13] Wall Street Week Ahead: Bargain-hunters look to U.S. real estate...
[2020-08-07 16:50:12] Thousands of BA staff to lose jobs as airline pushes ahead with cuts
[2020-08-07 13:20:10] Stocks - U.S. Futures Lower Ahead of Jobs Report; Dow Futures Down 105 Pts
[2020-08-07 13:20:10] Sino-U.S. tensions hit futures ahead of jobs report
[2020-08-07 10:15:10] Extending UK furlough would trap people in false hope, finance...
[2020-08-07 03:10:11] Dollar nurses losses ahead of non-farm payrolls data
[2020-08-07 02:15:16] University of Washington forecasts 300,000 U.S. COVID-19 deaths
[2020-08-06 22:40:13] Day Ahead: 3 Things to Watch for August 7
[2020-08-06 13:20:07] Stocks - U.S. Futures Lower Ahead of Claims; Dow Futures Down 70 Pts
[2020-08-06 13:05:12] Futures muted ahead of weekly unemployment claims data