Sunday, July 31, 2022

Job Switchers Are Earning a Lot More Than Those Who Stay

Even if you’re happy at your job, getting a new job for more pay is a good strategy as inflation eats into paychecks

By Julia Carpenter of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"It often pays to switch jobs, and now is one of the best times to do it.

The pay difference between those who stay and those who changed jobs is growing, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Job stayers, or people who stayed in their job for the past three months, increased their wages by about 4.7% as of June 2022. Meanwhile, those who switched jobs received a raise of 6.4%. The gap is the largest in two decades. 

Workers are facing fast-rising prices on gas, groceries, rent and other essentials. Even in a tight labor market, many workers aren’t getting a large enough pay increase at their current job to keep up with inflation, say workers and economists who study the labor market. As a result, some Americans are reconsidering expenses they once considered affordable, while many also are looking for a new job with a bigger paycheck to keep up."

"Some 47 million Americans have changed jobs in the past year"

"the recent group of job switchers is slightly different from past years. Traditionally, more people switch jobs because they are unhappy with their current role. Now, more people are switching for more pay"

"At companies hiring right now, there is almost a tacit acknowledgment that bringing in outside workers will now mean even bigger raises than in the past, say hiring managers. Some have tried other incentives, especially around remote work, but the question of pay is paramount."

"For those who switch jobs to earn more, there are considerable risks. 

In recession years—most notably in the aftermath of the 2008 recession—job stayers posted greater wage growth than job switchers, as employers cut positions and those on the job hunt had far fewer opportunities.

Staying in the same job has other potential benefits: security, consistency and the potential for future advancement to leadership positions"

"Employers increasing wages to lure these workers can contribute to inflation"

Related posts: 

Workers Quit Jobs at a Record Level in November (January, 2022)

The percentage of Americans leaving employers for new opportunities is at its highest level in more than two decades (June, 2021)

Saturday, July 30, 2022

What are some ways people are trying to deal with inflation and will the new Federal legislation help much?

Consumers are switching to cheaper brands and store brands. Businesses are trying to produce more from the expensive inputs they have to buy.

The first article is Cheaper Beer, Cigarettes Gain Favor as Inflation Pinches Shoppers: Retail stores are reporting stronger sales of beers like Busch Light and Icehouse, while Marlboro is losing ground to Montego and Maverick by Jennifer Maloney and Alex Harring of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"Shoppers are trading down to cheap beer brands and discount cigarettes as they feel more pressure on their pocketbooks.

Consumer prices in the U.S. rose at a 9.1% annual rate in June, the fastest pace in nearly 41 years, as strong consumer demand has collided with persistent supply shortages. In a survey released this month by the National Retail Federation, nearly half of consumers said that because of rising prices on everyday necessities, they were switching to cheaper alternatives."

"In the four weeks ended July 2, retail-store sales of economy beer increased by 5.4% from the same period last year"

"Not all beer drinkers are trading down. Sales of imported and superpremium beers like Modelo Especial and Michelob Ultra also are growing, underscoring the impact that inflation is having on lower-income consumers while more affluent people continue to spend more freely."

This link has something else interesting about beer & inflation. It is from The Essential Milton Friedman. Excerpt: 

"At higher rates of inflation, people hold so little money that their lives are substantially disrupted. The economist John Maynard Keynes was in Germany during the inflation of the 1920s, when prices were rising so rapidly that a beer purchased at midnight was substantially more expensive than a beer purchased at 9 p.m. When he thought he would want three beers over the course of the evening, he bought them all as early as possible and drank them slowly (note that Keynes, like Alice, was trying to get rid of money by buying things). All his life, Keynes remembered Germany as a place where he’d drunk a lot of warm beer."

The next article is More Shoppers Buy Store Brands, Eating Into Big Food Companies’ Sales: Tightening consumer budgets amid rapid inflation intensify competition in grocery aisles; ‘pennies add up’ by Annie Gasparro of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"Cost-conscious consumers are buying more store brands at the supermarket, raising pressure on big food companies that are dealing with their own rising costs.

Lower-cost oatmeal, pickles, granola bars and coffee, made by companies such as TreeHouse Foods Inc. THS -1.70% and sold by retailers like Walmart Inc. WMT 1.77% and Kroger Co., KR 0.87% are gaining traction with consumers for the first time since the pandemic began, according to market-research firm IRI."

"Store-branded food and beverages gained 1 percentage point of market share in terms of sales dollars over the four weeks that ended July 10"

"Store brands’ share of such spending is now 21.6%, surpassing 2019 levels, after losing ground to brand-name products throughout the pandemic."

"In recent weeks, store brands have gained sales by offering bigger discounts than name brands"

"Store brands typically cost less because the retailers and manufacturers don’t have added marketing costs, or name brands’ breadth of sizes and flavors."

"About 70% of consumers say store brands factor into where they shop for groceries, said Aimee Becker, executive vice president of global brand solutions for private-label consulting company Daymon. Historically, once people switch from national brands to store brands, they tend not to go back"

"For decades, private-label grocery products such as Kroger’s Simple Truth, Whole Foods Market’s 365 or Costco Wholesale Corp.’s Kirkland have chipped away at sales of big brands. In the years leading up the Covid-19 pandemic, sales of store-branded products grew at twice the rate of name-brand products."

"Southeastern Grocers Inc., which runs Winn-Dixie and other regional supermarket chains, said that shoppers are now choosing its line of products over name brands for cheese, eggs, salty snacks, coffee and more. The store-branded products on average are 20% less expensive than name brands, said Dewayne Rabon, Southeastern Grocers’ chief merchandising officer."

"The price gap between store brands and national brands has recently widened for the first time since the start of the pandemic"

"private-label products are 30% cheaper on average"

What about businesses? See See Inflation’s Funky Byproducts: Bacon Soap or Dairy Vodka, Anyone? by Harriet Torry of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"Kristie Williams sells Bumble Soap at her health-food store in this beach town. Its unusual main ingredient, she said, is hard to detect—unless you’re a dog.

“I can’t smell the bacon in the soap,” she said. “My dogs can. Whenever I bring one home, they go crazy.”

The yucky-sounding soap bars are being cooked up less than 4 miles away from Ocean City Organics at Sunrise Diner, which also serves bacon the more traditional way, with eggs and coffee. Owner Sam Delauter said he branched into soap making when the price of a case of bacon jumped to $90, from $45 last year.

Thinking he could squeeze a few dollars out of his bacon grease in a time of high inflation, he dusted off his great-grandmother’s soap recipe from the Great Depression. He sells the bars for $5.99.

“Every 17 bars of soap, I get a free case of bacon,” he said, once other costs are taken into account. “That’s how I calculate it in my mind.”

Searching for new sources of revenue and greener ways to deal with waste, business owners have started coming up with some funky new products. Vodka distilled from dairy-making waste. Compost made from crabs."

On the new government bill that raises taxes and fight carbon admissions see Manchin-Schumer Deal Would Have Moderate Inflation-Fighting Effect, Economists Say by David Harrison of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"Senate Democrats’ tax and spending proposal would likely help cool inflation slightly but most of the effects won’t be felt until later this decade, economists said."

"The deal announced Wednesday raises some taxes and limits prescription drug price increases, both of which would help slow inflation, economists said. But it also raises government spending on climate and healthcare programs, which could add more upward pressure on prices. Overall, the agreement reduces the federal deficit by about $300 billion over a decade, according to Senate Democrats.

The net effect, economists said, would likely restrain price increases. But that effect will be relatively small and won’t show up for several years.

“You add it all up, it will lean against inflation,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “This is by no means a game-changing piece of legislation. It’s relatively small in the grand scheme of things.”

Economists at Goldman Sachs estimate the proposal’s overall spending and revenue effects would represent less than 0.1% of the U.S. economy in the first part of the decade and about 0.2% after 2028.

An economic model run by the University of Pennsylvania estimated the framework would shave about 0.25 percentage point from inflation annually by the late 2020s, according to Kent Smetters, who directs the model. The model looks at the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, the inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve.

The proposal will likely not offer much short-term help to the Fed in its effort to cool inflation this year."

Related posts:

How Does The Fed Prefer To Measure Inflation (how the Fed uses the personal consumption expenditures price index [PCE])

When workers were paid twice a day and given half-hour shopping breaks (Germany, 1923) (due to hyper inflation)

Thursday, July 28, 2022

How to track the 6 indicators that NBER uses to date recessions

I saw the link to the graph I use below posted on Twitter by economist Jeremy Horpedahl.

NBER stands for National Bureau of Economic Research. The controversy the last few days is over the definition of a recession.

One that is often used is two straight quarters of falling real GDP. 

Another one that people are talking about is:

"The NBER's traditional definition of a recession is that it is a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months."

See Business Cycle Dating Procedure: Frequently Asked Questions. The NBER is a private organization, not part of the federal government.

Economist Phil Magness has written an article that mentions that the 2 quarter definition has been in text books and is even mentioned in laws. See A Recession by Any Other Name: An economic downturn is a political problem, so the White House is playing semantics by redefining the term

Magness mentions that the 2 quarter definition "describes almost every downturn since World War II."

Below is the graph with the NBER's indicators from FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data). Click here to go to the site.

It looks like all of them are pretty flat. Some look like they are going down but no major declines. After the graph I list the definitions of the 3 of the indicators (the definitions at the links give more details). The others are pretty much self explanatory. But again, more info at the link.

Industrial Production: Total Index  (INDPRO) The Industrial Production Index (INDPRO) is an economic indicator that measures real output for all facilities located in the United States manufacturing, mining, and electric, and gas utilities (excluding those in U.S. territories). 

Employment Level The civilian noninstitutional population is defined as: persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, who are not inmates of institutions (e.g., penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.

All Employees, Total Nonfarm, commonly known as Total Nonfarm Payroll, is a measure of the number of U.S. workers in the economy that excludes proprietors, private household employees, unpaid volunteers, farm employees, and the unincorporated self-employed. This measure accounts for approximately 80 percent of the workers who contribute to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).