The market celebrated on Friday, roaring higher right out of the gate on news that 255,000 jobs were added in July, blasting past the Street estimate for a gain of 180,000.
But it’s still too early to give the all-clear sign, indicating that the economy is truly on the mend.
And definitely far too early for the Fed to start raising rates.
The unemployment rate remained flat at 4.9%, as more than 400,000 Americans entered the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 7.8 million unemployed Americans, but that number is far from complete if you consider that U.S. labor participation hovers at 62.8% — its lowest level in decades.
What’s not included in the unemployment number is that there are two million people who are not in the labor force but want jobs.
And then there are the 5.9 million people who are stuck in part-time jobs for economic reasons. In other words, they grabbed part-time jobs as a temporary fix until they can find full-time jobs. These people are likely not making nearly enough money to help the economy expand as we need, but rather getting by on the basics until that high-paying job finally comes along.
So those 7.8 million unemployed Americans look more realistically like 15.7 million who want full-time jobs, or an unemployment rate a lot closer to 9.9%.
Let’s not forget that income growth is sitting at a 2.6% annual gain, which some of the talking heads are quick to point out is a 12-month high. But if you consider that wage growth has been incredibly weak since the start of the Great Recession, a 12-month high isn’t a lot to write home about.
Yes, that’s a really pretty headline number, but you’ve got to dig a little deeper to see the truth. The economy has got a long way to go before we’ve earned any kind of celebration … or even a rate hike.
And a rate hike at the September 20-21 meeting could kick over the last pillar holding up this economy, leading to a collapse.