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Much Ado About the Fed’s LMCI

After Friday’s disastrous labor report, financial scribes are poring over other economic data (that is, when they’re not marveling at levitating stock prices) in an attempt to figure out what the heck is going on in the nation’s labor market and a few of them (see here and here) have homed in on the startling decline in the Federal Reserve’s all-encompassing Labor Market Conditions Index, reproduced below courtesy of the St. Louis Fed.

After this many months below zero on the y-axis, history shows that interest rate cuts are more likely than rate hikes, meaning that, absent a significant change to the slope of that curve, it’ll be “one and done” for this rate hike cycle.

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The Myth of Retiring Baby Boomers

Anyone interested in digging deeper into the quandary over what’s responsible for the declining labor force participation rate in the U.S. should have a look at this item from Doug Short over at Advisor Perspectives where the chart below is offered up as evidence that it’s not just demographics since the Baby Boom generation is actually working more.

Those born between 1946 and 1964 (and recall that the boom faded quickly in 1958) fit into the first four groups with only one group showing an increase in those seeing fit to no longer work or look for work – the 50- to 54-year olds. Given the slope of curves for the five older groups, perhaps their decision will prove to be a bit hasty as one thing is clear from the chart above – the older you get, the more likely it is you’ll re-enter the work force.

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I Bet They Didn’t See That Coming

What is it with the French?

Presumably they ask the same questions about us ‘Mericans and our guns, but the bloody French Revolution from about 225 years ago comes to mind watching these Air France executives trying to exit the scene after announcing mass job cuts yesterday.

Details of how the executives were “almost lynched” are found in this story from Agence France-Presse, Whochit News provides this video, and there’s this report at The Guardian.

They’ll probably think a little more about security next time…

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Another Measure of Participation Rate

Deep into the comments section of Ben Bernanke’s WSJ op-ed today about how he saved the world (I don’t normally read this stuff, but made an exception in this case to see how far into the 400+ comments I’d have to go before finding something positive – ultimately, I gave up) came a link to another measure of labor force participation rate from the St. Louis Fed that excludes two age groups – 16-to-25 and those 55 and over.

This is marginally better  than the BLS version that includes people 16 years and older that appeared here on Friday (i.e., a 30-year low rather than a 38-year low), but still begs the question of what fundamental factors are driving the change, that is, aside from the catch-all conclusion from the Atlanta Fed that “people just don’t want to work” anymore.

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Participation Rate Falls to 38-Year Low

Amongst the other bad news in today’s September Labor report (i.e., payrolls up 142,000 vs. expectations of 200,000 and downward revisions to prior months totaling 59,000), comes word that the labor force participation rate fell to the lowest level since 1977 (i.e., less than half-way through the decades-long transition of women entering the workforce).

Interestingly, according to the household survey, while the civilian population rose by 229,000 last month, some 579,000 people were counted as no longer in the labor force with only 23,000 of them still wanting a job.

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