Inflation in the U.S. is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels, indicating a positive trend for the economy. Furthermore, the stage is being set for the Federal Reserve to potentially lower interest rates later this year.
Anticipate yet another robust employment report to be released this week for the month of January. The Federal Reserve’s recent meeting, held on Wednesday, and the impending jobs report scheduled for the following Friday mark significant events on the busy economic calendar.
However, it’s important to note that the Fed’s first policy meeting of the year will not result in any changes to interest rates. Nonetheless, Chairman Jerome Powell and the central bank are expected to provide some insight into when the first interest rate cut of the year may occur.
Powell will also offer an overview of the current state of the economy, which seems to be aligning with the Fed’s desired trajectory.
January Employment Report
Date: Friday, Time: 8:30 a.m. Eastern
According to a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal, economists estimate that approximately 180,000 new jobs were created in the first month of the new year.
Preliminary estimates indicate that the economy experienced significant job growth in January, with a gain of 216,000 jobs.
Although the unemployment rate is projected to rise slightly from 3.7% to 3.8%, it remains remarkably low – near its lowest level in over 50 years.
There are several indicators suggesting that job growth will continue to be strong. Notably, January witnessed exceptionally low layoff numbers, indicative of fewer job cuts than usual.
Consumers continue to spend as companies face hiring needs
Consumers have shown a consistent willingness to spend at high levels, which has created a demand for companies to hire new employees. However, the Federal Reserve is hoping to see a slowdown in hiring to alleviate the tight labor market. They believe that if hiring slows down more significantly, with numbers closer to 100,000 new hires per month, it would help ease the pressure on the labor market.
The number of job openings listed has decreased by approximately one-fourth, dropping from a record 12 million a few years ago to 8.8 million currently. This decline in job openings aligns with the Federal Reserve’s perspective, as job openings are seen as an indicator of labor demand. When there is less demand for labor, the theory suggests that there would be less upward pressure on wages, resulting in lower inflation. It is predicted that job openings will continue to decrease in December.
The role of productivity in economic growth
Thursday, 2 p.m. Eastern
One of the fundamental ways an economy can experience rapid growth without triggering inflation is through increased productivity.
This means that workers are able to produce a greater quantity of goods and services within the same timeframe compared to previous years. Essentially, it is about achieving more with the same amount of time and resources.
The rise in productivity plays a vital role in improving the overall standard of living. Interestingly, there are indications that the increased use of technology since the pandemic has contributed to this boost in productivity. This development holds tremendous potential for the U.S. economy.
It is projected that productivity will experience a 2.1% increase in the fourth quarter following a remarkable surge of 5.2% in the third quarter.