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Looking Back at Jobs Data

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We begin a new week of trading still scratching our heads over Friday’s disappointing Jobs Report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which posted 266K new positions having been created for the month of April — basically a quarter of what analysts had been expecting. The Unemployment Rate, instead of dropping from 6.0% to 5.8% as expected, ticked back up to 6.1%.

While we certainly must acknowledge post-pandemic conditions have changed the labor force climate — federal government assistance and benefits giving many an option to not return to work, reluctance to work at positions in close contact with others, who may not be vaccinated, etc. — we should also point out that the sky is not falling. Yes, we’re behind the pace we thought we’d be at this time, but we’re still pointed in the right direction.

Take the headline 266K jobs, for starts: more than a quarter of a million filled employment opportunities over the course of 30 days. Over the past three months, we’re averaging more than half a million jobs per month, with plenty of room to grow. The Unemployment Rate taking a small step in the wrong direction illustrates the increased willingness of able-bodied Americans to re-enter the workforce after basically taking the last year off.

Also, Wednesday’s private-sector jobs headline from Automatic Data Processing (ADP - Free Report)  742K new positions filled. That’s also under than million-job threshold, but more than double the BLS print. And, while in real time these two employment metrics can often appear worlds apart, over time (with revisions) they do tend to follow a particular pattern in jobs growth, even those that were not anticipated.

This week, we’re lighter on economic data — but we’re not dead: Consumer and Producer Price Index (CPI and PPI) reads for April will be out mid-week, plus Retail Sales and Initial Jobless Claims later. Also, while many of the marquee names on Wall Street have already posted numbers for calendar Q1, we still see a heavy load of new releases today and through Friday morning. St Louis-based electric utility Ameren (AEE - Free Report)  reports after today’s close.

Ahead of today’s open, Duke Energy (DUK - Free Report)  put up mixed results in its Q1 report: $1.26 per share topped the $1.24 in the Zacks consensus, while revenues of $6.15 billion missed expectations by 0.93%. However, the company is trading higher about 0.73% at this hour in the pre-market, and shares slightly lag the S&P 500 year to date. For more on DUK’s earnings, click here.

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