12 November, 2009

Job Market healing, albeit very slowly

Employment in this economic environment has been a very sensitive subject for both politicians, investors and most importantly job-seekers. The economic issue is first and foremost on the mind on many Americans, but it is also causing political upheaval in Washington as the slowing of job losses can be used as an argument only so many times before political capital and goodwill is eroded completely.

Jobless claims data out today showcased that first-time claims came in at just over 500,000, which is the fewest since January of this year. The four-week average for first time claims, about 520,000, is off 20% from peak claims levels. For October, job losses numbered in the 190,000 range, well off peaks of 700,000 during this recession. Accumulation is a big issue, as jobs lost since the recession began number more than 7.3Million, and despite government figures that point to job creation/savings of about 600,000 from the stimulus package it still is a difficult data point to swallow, for those trapped without employment, making the march for continuing jobless benefits.

The market's have reacted bearishly to the jobless claims, but overall losses today have been muted, with the major market trackers off about half a percentage point. Materials and Energy sectors are leading the decline today, with Financials barely trailing for the prize of day's worst performers. With the S&P holding levels around 1100 points, the market has been pricing in recovery during its recently extended rally. Investors, to keep this rally going, are going to need to see tangible upticks in demand and that means some tried and true job growth going into 2010. If anyone is to keep this market going next year the need will be to have jobs creation to build on the economic recovery GDP figures have already suggested is here.

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