Labour market watch: US / UK weakness

11/06/2019

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​Incoming news remains mostly supportive of the view here that economic weakness is spreading to labour markets.

US non-farm payrolls undershot expectations in May but the series is volatile, arguing for smoothing data over several months. Three-month growth of a three-month moving average of private payrolls fell further to the bottom of the range of recent years, with weakness confirmed by aggregate hours worked – see first chart.


Today’s UK labour market report, meanwhile, reported a fourth successive monthly decline in May in the stock of vacancies, which leads employees in employment. The employees series recovered in April but remained below a February peak – second chart*.


A rebound in annual growth of private sector regular pay to 3.8% in April partly reflected a base effect, with three-month growth of a three-month moving average subsiding further – third chart.


Last week’s news of a further fall in the Euroland unemployment rate from 7.7% to 7.6% in April was against the global trend of softer data. The decline was driven by a drop from 14.0% to 13.8% in Spain, while rates in Germany, France and Italy were unchanged on the month – fourth chart. As previously noted, German registered unemployment rose in May, even after adjusting for a reporting change distortion, while vacancies fell for a second month.


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