Blog / Economic Commentary

  • Weekly Economic Commentary -- The Employment Outlook

    By Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Raymond James

    There’s always a story behind the economic data. The Employment Report understated the labor market deterioration in March, while seasonal adjustment amplified the level of job losses in the first half of the month. More importantly, claims for unemployment benefits doubled from the astronomical level of a week earlier. On a seasonally adjusted basis, nearly 10 million people, more than 6% of the labor force, have filed a jobless claim in just two weeks, more than in the first six months of the 2007-09 recession. The speed and magnitude of this decline are unprecedented, and we’re not close to being done yet.

  • Weekly Economic Commentary -- So It Begins

    By Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Raymond James

    So It Begins – The economic impact of COVID-19 has been shockingly large and swift, but most of the information has been anecdotal. Economic data reports are by their nature backward-looking. However, the latest unemployment claim figure and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index point to a sharp contraction in economic activity. We should see further evidence of that in this week’s data.

  • Weekly Economic Monitor -- A Downshift in Expectations for 4Q19

    By Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Raymond James

    Focusing more on a possible mini trade deal with China, financial market participants have largely ignored the recent economic data reports. The figures suggest a softer growth trend in early 4Q19 and many economists have been lowering their  GDP forecasts. Growth is often lumpy from quarter to quarter and the fundamentals imply a moderate economic expansion in 2020. However, as widely noted, recessions are often psychological in nature.

     

  • Weekly Economic Monitor -- Productivity

    By Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Raymond James

    Productivity – Theoretically, there is no single variable more important to the economy than productivity, or output per worker. Productivity growth is how we get improved living standards over time. Faster productivity helps to offset the impact of wage growth, supporting gains in corporate profits. However, in practice, the productivity estimate is among the most troublesome of economic statistics. Productivity growth has slowed over the last week, in the U.S. and worldwide. Efforts to boost productivity growth should be a priority, as improvement would help to counter slower growth in the workforce.