The Employment Report Does Little to Defray the Likelihood of Higher Wage Growth
Today’s unemployment that featured above trend employment growth, a tick up in the participation rate, a flat unemployment rate and a little less wage growth compared to last month is being met with applause from the equity market. After all, it was last month’s surge in hourly earnings that was blamed for the speedy equity and bond market correction, something this report visibly lacks. But, just because we didn’t get another surge in earnings this month doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. Indeed, numerous indicators that lead wage growth by about a year are signaling an acceleration in wage growth in the coming months. Some of those indicators that lead wage growth include the unemployment rate, small business hiring plans, and the output gap. We’ll take them one-by-one below.
The first chart below shows the unemployment rate (blue line, left axis, inverted) plotted against average hourly earnings of non-supervisory employees (red line, right axis). The unemployment rate leads wage growth by about one year, and the break lower in the unemployment rate that started in early 2017 looks set to feed through to wages in the coming months.
Next, we show the relationship between NFIB small business hiring plans (blue line, right axis) and wage growth (red line, left axis). Small business hiring plans lead wage growth by about fifteen months, so the breakout in those hiring plans that started in early 2017 suggests an uptick in wages in the coming months.