ETI rises, while consumers see slowing of income, spending

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The Conference Board's Employment Trends Index (ETI) gained to 97.57 in October from 96.33 in September, but remains 11.1% lower than a year ago, the group announced Monday.

This month’s numbers reflect a benchmark revision and a shift to” a symmetric monthly change methodology” and annual revision, the Conference Board said.

“While the Employment Trends Index increased in October, this month marks the smallest increase in the index since May," according to Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “Strong employment gains in recent months brought the unemployment rate to 6.9%. But the number of new COVID-19 cases is rising and the pandemic’s relentlessness may potentially lead to governments enacting additional restrictions on mobility and slower consumer spending. As a result, The Conference Board expects job growth to slow in the coming months, leading to a slower decline in the unemployment rate.”

The increasing indicators — from the largest to the smallest — were: the number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry; initial claims for unemployment insurance; real manufacturing and trade sales; industrial production; the percentage of respondents who say they find “jobs hard to get”; and job openings., according to the Conference Board.

The eight labor-market indicators aggregated into the ETI include: percentage of respondents who say they find "jobs hard to get" (The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey); initial claims for unemployment insurance (U.S. Department of Labor); percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now (National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation); number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics); part-time workers for economic reasons (BLS); job openings (BLS); industrial production (Federal Reserve Board); and real manufacturing and trade sales (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

Separately, consumers lowered their expectations for income and spending, while expecting less inflation in the short-term, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Survey of Consumer Expectations.

In October, one-year inflation expectations slid to 2.8% in October from 3.0%, while at the three-year range inflation expectations held at 2.7%.

Expected household income growth slid to 2.1% in the month from 2.4% in September. Since February, growth expectations remained between 1.9% and 2.3%, down from the 2.8% average posted last year.

Respondents saw a slighter chance of losing their job in the next year (15.5% in October and 16.6% in September), but still higher than the pre-pandemic 13.8% figure seen in February.

The probability of finding a new job after losing a job, also declined to 46.9% from 49.9%. The 46.9% was the lowest level since April 2014. In February, the read was 58.7%, while the average for 2019 was 59.9%.

Spending also fell 0.3 points, to 3.1% in October, matching the February read.

In data released late Friday, consumer credit soared $16.2 billion in September following a $6.9 billion decline a month earlier, according to the Federal Reserve.

The August decline was initially reported as a $7.2 billion drop.

Economists polled by IFR Markets expected September consumer credit to rise $8.5 billion.

Revolving credit soared $4 billion and non-revolving credit surged $12.2 billion.

Revolving credit includes credit card debt. Non-revolving debt includes automobile loans, loans for mobile homes, education, boats, trailers, or vacations.

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Economic indicators Employment data Inflation Credit