By Jeff D. Opdyke
I know there’s a lot of jabbering in the media right now with the vast bulk of commentators, pundits and economists all saying in near unison that we’ve finally reached the tipping point and that December is absolutely the month that the Fed pulls the trigger and, for the first time in a decade, lifts U.S. interest rates.
Their only rationale is that the U.S. printed a surprisingly strong jobs reports in October.
Someone alert the National Bureau of Economic Analysis and let them know that economic health has been redefined as one good jobs report.
I have been saying all along, and I will continue to say it until the situation improves: The Federal Reserve is in no position to raise rates in December. And the Fed knows it.
One jobs report, amid a sea of middling and tepid jobs reports across much of 2015, means nothing. The jobs America is creating are largely low-paying jobs, as I’ve written about before. Just look at the October report for further proof.
Dig a Little Deeper, Wall Street
The fawning media seem oddly incapable of understanding anything beyond the nominal 271,000 new jobs created in October. Yes, that surprised to the upside. But considering where the jobs are occurring, I’m left with a hearty “So what?”
More than 160,000 of those October jobs were in wholesale and retail trade, education and health services (think: home health aides and clerical workers inside doctor’s offices), leisure and hospitality (think: hotel clerks and burger flippers), and other similar jobs. All of those are low-skill, low-paying jobs. Another 31,000 were in construction, many of which are low paying.
All in, then, roughly two-thirds of the jobs created in October are not sufficient to fuel a middle-class American life.
And then there’s this: Of the biggest job category to see employment growth (professional and business services with 78,000 jobs), a big chunk of it of was temporary help!
That’s your “healthy America,” dear reader — the sum total of which is a bunch of low-wage workers and some temporary help.
Yay for America! Such a vibrant and strong economy we’re building.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
The Federal Reserve clearly recognizes that the jobs report is no reason to rush out an interest-rate hike.
Plus, more and more U.S. companies are feeling the pinch of a strong dollar that is driving down their profits. If the Fed provides additional fuel for an even-stronger dollar — and a rate hike is high-octane fuel in the modern world — then U.S. businesses begin a round of layoffs to preserve profits for owners and investors (sorry workers, but that’s just the way capitalism works).
Suddenly, the U.S. would be in recession … which means the Fed, ironically, would have to then CUT rates in order to try to reverse the recession. And already the country’s manufacturing sector is signaling it’s in a recession (the Institute of Supply Management reading for manufacturing has been headed lower for four months and the sector had zero job growth in October).
The Federal Reserve clearly recognizes this, even if the media and Wall Street’s investment-bank economists and strategists miss this reality because of one giddy jobs report. Simply put: The Fed isn’t going to raise rates in December only to have to cut them again early in the new year.
So don’t go betting the farm on a Federal Reserve rate hike in December.
Federal Reserve: No Hike Until 2016
Rates will not rise in America until the spring or, more likely, the summer of 2016. That will give the rest of the world time for certain things I’ve written about recently to work themselves out — namely China’s currency devaluation, which will ultimately help China’s economy, and which will then flow through to other Asian economies, commodity economies and back into America and Europe. At that point, the world will be more open to rate increases globally, which will allow the Fed to raise without strengthening the dollar.