The Monday Moneybeat

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Here is a good sign about jobs and wages: The Labor Department said last week that in September, the supply of jobs available was greater than the number of people who remain unemployed.

As a job-market metric, this figure is relatively new. The government’s records go back to December of the year 2000.

Job openings stand at about 7 million, and even though that’s a month-to-month drop of 4 percent, the number remains near historically high levels. And it far exceeds the roughly 6 million still without a job.

With the September report, that marks six months in a row where there were more jobs available than people who need one.

The Department of Labor calls this report the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. It showed several industries with an abundance of positions available:

Education and health services; health care and social assistance; hospitality and leisure; trade, transportation, and utilities; and professional and business services. Those are higher-skill and higher-pay positions in engineering, accounting, and architecture.

REICHARD: On Wall Street, investors breathed a sigh of relief about congressional elections. On Tuesday, Election Day, stocks dropped. But when the results came back largely in line with expectations, stock values surged Wednesday and Thursday when it became clear economic policies would remain largely unchanged.

Only bad news on tech-company earnings and continued trouble in the Chinese economy sent stocks lower at the close on Friday.

But overall, for the week, all the indexes ended higher than they started, even the tech-heavy Nasdaq. It rose 0.7 percent. The smaller-company index, the Russell 2000, gained one-tenth of 1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock indexes enjoyed big gains: The Dow up 2.8 percent for the week; the S&P 500 up 2.1.

EICHER: China is a big question mark for investors. Its economy is hitting speed bump after speed bump — the latest, sales of things that hit speed bumps, automobiles. Car sales in China fell in October for the fourth straight month, and they’re down 13 percent over the previous year.

What’s also weighing on the Chinese economy is the longer-term effect of the trade war with the United States. China matters because it’s the second biggest economy in the world and it’s a driver of global markets.

REICHARD: The Commerce Department reported an increase in wholesale prices in October, 0.6 percent, the biggest month-to-month rise in six years. That’s a literal indicator of price inflation. But the key figure the government reports is so-called “core inflation.” That’s subtracting volatile categories like food and energy. Without those, the report showed inflation relatively in check, and it’s significantly lower than it was this summer.

EICHER: That core inflation number seemed to satisfy the Federal Reserve Board. The Fed concluded its two-day meeting last week without raising interest rates. Whenever it detects signs of unacceptable levels of inflation, it tends to respond by making it more expensive to borrow money, as a measure to slow down economic activity and stave off inflation.

And that’s today’s Monday Moneybeat.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew) Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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