Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 161,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in health care, professional and business services, and financial activities.
The unemployment rate, at 4.9 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.8 million, changed little in October. Both measures have shown little movement, on net, since August 2015.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in October, and the overall economy grew for the 89th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.
American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index contracted 5.8% in September, following a 5% rise during August (a slight downward revision from our press release last month). In September, the index equaled 132.7 (2000=100), down from 140.8 in August. The all-time high was 144 in February.
After offering a glimmer of ‘less bad’ hope in August (only down 1.1% YoY and up 0.4% sequentially), the Cass Freight Index shipments data in September disappointed, providing hindsight that August only gave us ‘false hope.’ September data is once again signaling that overall shipment volumes (and pricing) continued to be weak in most modes, with increased levels of volatility as all levels of the supply chain (manufacturing, wholesale, retail) continue to try and work down inventory levels. That said, there have been a few areas of growth, mostly related to e-commerce, with lower levels of expansion being experienced in transit modes serving the auto and housing/construction industries. All of this added up to lower shipment volume in September on a YoY (Year-over-Year) basis, marking the nineteenth straight month of year-over-year decline. Bottom line, the Industrial Recession in the U.S. that began in March of 2015 continues to weigh on overall volumes.
Sales. The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for August, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,304.1 billion, up 0.2 percent (±0.2%)* from July 2016, but was virtually unchanged (±0.5%)* from August 2015.
Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh-largest container shipper, filed for Bankruptcy protection on August 31. On September 6, 2016, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey issued a blanket stay of collection or enforcement efforts against Hanjin or its assets in the U.S. Three days later, the Court established a protocol for cargo interests to claim their cargo from Hanjin or third parties such as terminal agents, warehousemen or others. Unfortunately, the protocol did not address all of the issues.
“Volatility continues to reign in 2016. This month’s tonnage reading highlights this fact and underscores the difficulty in determining any real or clear trend in truck tonnage,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “What is clear to me is that normal seasonal patterns are not holding in 2016.”
“While the U.S. LEI declined in August, its trend still points to moderate economic growth in the months ahead,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. “Although strengths and weaknesses among the leading indicators are roughly balanced, positive contributions from the financial indicators were more than offset by weakening of nonfinancial indicators, such as leading indicators of labor markets, suggesting some risks to growth persist.” – The Conference Board
October is expected to be the second-busiest month of the year for the nation’s major retail container ports as merchants stock up for the holiday shopping season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.