Business Columns & Blogs

A strong jobs report likely won’t dissuade the Fed

“The monthly unemployment rate has remained at or below 4 percent all year. In fact, the proportion of Americans wanting to work but not working was lower in July, when the Fed cut its interest rate, than December, when it last hiked its borrowing rate. These are not ordinary times.”
“The monthly unemployment rate has remained at or below 4 percent all year. In fact, the proportion of Americans wanting to work but not working was lower in July, when the Fed cut its interest rate, than December, when it last hiked its borrowing rate. These are not ordinary times.” Getty Images/iStockphoto

New tariffs. A major hurricane. An inverted yield curve. A presidential tweet. Maybe it will be good for the market to turn its attention to an ordinary, routine economic release in the week ahead.

The August jobs data out on Friday, Sept. 6, is one of the last big economic reports released before the Federal Reserve’s next scheduled interest rate meeting. If the central bank is to cut its target short-term interest rate later this month, which the market expects, a weakening August employment report may provide some cover.

But a strong report isn’t likely to persuade the bankers to pause their effort to cut rates.

The monthly unemployment rate has remained at or below 4 percent all year. In fact, the proportion of Americans wanting to work but not working was lower in July, when the Fed cut its interest rate, than December, when it last hiked its borrowing rate. These are not ordinary times.

So the Fed is not concerned about goosing employment. One voting member of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate setting committee differed from his colleagues on cutting its interest rate in July because the unemployment rate is at a half-century low. He lost the debate.

It’s not that August’s employment data doesn’t matter. It does. It certainly matters if you are one of the tens of thousands of people who likely started a job that was created last month. It matters to the Fed, too. But it isn’t about to allay what is guiding the bank’s thinking: a weakening global economy and trade tensions.

The American job market doesn’t play a leading role in those challenges. It plays a supporting role, which is out of the ordinary for investors.

Tom Hudson hosts “The Sunshine Economy” on WLRN-FM, where he is the vice president of news. Twitter: @HudsonsView

  Comments