Let’s hope this isn’t the beginning of the end.
CNBC and MSNBC contributor Ron Insana worries that Friday's disappointing jobs report, coupled with recent weak housing and auto sales, could be the start of a pronounced economic slowdown.
Best-case scenario, the author of four books on Wall Street explains, is that it could just all be a set of statistical quirks that occur in May.
“The number of jobs added to the economy was fewer than expected. The unemployment rates dropped for the wrong reasons … more people exiting the workforce. The wage data were softer than expected. And, the two prior to months' job gains were revised downward, Insana wrote for CNBC.com.
U.S. job growth slowed in May and employment gains in the prior two months were not as strong as previously reported, suggesting the labor market was losing momentum despite the unemployment rate falling to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 138,000 last month as the manufacturing, government and retail sectors lost jobs, the Labor Department said on Friday. The economy created 66,000 fewer jobs than previously reported in March and April.
Economists had forecast payrolls increasing by 185,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.4 percent, Reuters reported.
Details of the employment report were weak. Though the unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to its lowest level since May 2001, that was because 429,000 people dropped out of the labor force.
“The data are not a total disaster. The narrowest, and broadest, measures of unemployment are at their lowest levels in years. However, the labor-force participation rate also declined, offsetting that welcome news,” he wrote.
Insana offered a litany of economic omens: looming interest rate hikes, banks pulling back on extending auto credit, soaring housing affordability and softening inflation rates after briefly, and only briefly, touching the Fed's 2 percent target
“And, most important, consumer confidence has begun to dip, as the Trump administration has not provided any obvious help to those who are jobless or underemployed,” Insana explained.
“With the Federal Reserve poised to raise interest rates again in June, today's data notwithstanding, and scant fiscal stimulus loaded in the Washington pipeline, this could be the beginning of a worrying trend,” he wrote.
“It may be too early to tell if the economy has lost its mojo. Clearly the stock market, with the major averages at all-time highs, doesn't seem too worried,” he wrote.
“This could be a temporary pause in what has been one of the longest, albeit slowest, economic recoveries in modern times.”
However, Insana colleague Larry Kudlow told Newsmax TV that investors shouldn’t panic over the jobs data.
Kudlow, the economic guru and former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, told Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg on YouTube that the report was “not a catastrophe.”
Kudlow, a Newsmax Finance Insider, urged savvy investors to remain patient during this volatile economic transition.
“It's not a recession. It just came under the consensus," said the author of "JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity," written with Brian Domitrovic and published by Portfolio.
"My guess is jobs will gradually slow down but it's too bad in a sense if we can reform a lot of these anti-poverty, welfare-type programs to provide incentives to work rather than exist on government,” said Kudlow, who was a key architect of Trump’s tax platform and an early supporter of the real-estate billionaire's campaign.
“We're in the eighth year of recovery, although it's a lousy recovery, but I don't expect any miracles out of the jobs,” said Kudlow, who worked as Reagan’s budget deputy between 1981 and 1985.
“You get miracles out of the jobs if you stimulate business investment and if we the darn tax cuts through, then you'll see a pickup,” Kudlow said.
“There's nothing really great or new happening out there. That's why I think the business tax cuts proposed by Trump are so darn important. The sooner they get that through the faster we're going to grow,” he said/
“All I'm saying is with the jobs slowing down you're still at 2 percent real GDP zone. So unless you change some of these anti-poverty programs, the small entitlements to provide incentives for people to go back to work or Bill Clinton reforms to put eligibility requirements on them once again which were decimated, that's also in Trump's budget, and/or you got to get your business tax cuts through. That will boost jobs and that will bring a lot of new people back into the labor force.”
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
Larry Kudlow is a senior contributor at CNBC. His new book is “JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity,” written with Brian Domitrovic.
To find out more about Larry Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com
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