Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Job Market and Equities

WSJ details the "hopeful" job opening data:

The Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey found that the number of job openings in the U.S. increased slightly in both August and September, the first two-month rise since early 2007. Hotels, restaurants, education and health care made the largest contributions; even such hard-hit sectors as manufacturing saw a rise.
The number of job openings per unemployed persons has "slid" to 6.11 in September from 6.17 in August. Unfortunately, we already know the numerator in this equation jumps 558,000 jobs in October, so we need an increase of at least ~90,000 job openings to keep that ratio steady (unlikely). More "broadly", the broad unemployment measure points to almost 10.6 unemployed / underemployed persons per job opening (down slightly from 10.67).



The report also details the number of individuals separated from their jobs that were in the form of a "quit" (i.e. power of the people!) vs "layoff" (damn corporations!). Not surprising, when the going gets tough, the layoffs win.



Taking the ratio of quits to layoffs, we get the 'quits to layoff ratio' (anyone have a better name?), which has a very strong correlation (0.69 monthly correlation going back to December 2000) to the S&P 500 index.



Based on history it does appear that the equity market has been a leading indicator of 'quits to layoffs', but does anyone think the "power of the people" outweighs the power of the "damn corporations" right now?

Source: BLS