Labor Market Lament — I Quit; Key Democrat Announces Retirement

by Greg Valliere, AGF Management Ltd.

THE LABOR OUTLOOK IS COMPLICATED BY RETIREMENTS: The key labor dynamic isn’t the inability to create more jobs — it’s the astonishingly high number of Americans who are quitting their jobs.

DATA RELEASED YESTERDAY from the Labor Department showed that 4.3 million people quit their jobs in August — about 3% of the workforce. With over 10 million job openings last month, workers can afford to quit for better opportunities and compensation.

WORKERS ARE QUITTING AT A RECORD PACE in several sectors, according to the Labor Department — about 890,000 employees quit in restaurants, bars and hotels in August, 721,000 in retail jobs, 706,000 in professional services and 534,000 in health care and social assistance.

LOTS OF UNKNOWNS: Perhaps the greatest uncertainty is whether the work force will grow now that supplemental unemployment benefits have ended. Last Friday’s disappointing jobs report only reflected the first couple of weeks with no extra benefits; it may take longer than that for workers to return.

BUT WILL THEY RETURN? Impediments include continued fear of Covid (and Covid mandates), mediocre pay and limited opportunities for advancement, a lack of day care, a need for job training, and — crucially — the significant benefits that remain.

STATES STILL HAVE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, just not the supplemental. And there’s been a big hike in food stamps, this summer’s expansion of the generous child tax credit, state rental assistance, and — for seniors — a huge new Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2022, to be announced today.

OUR GUESS IS THAT with these types of benefits, many people who have quit may have the luxury of being picky as they choose a new job. They may stay out of the workforce — or continue to quit — because there’s no urgency to work unless the available jobs are compelling opportunities.

* * * * *

SPEAKING OF QUITTING: A key House Democrat, Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, announced his retirement yesterday, still another sign that party leaders are fearful of an election blowout next fall. Yarmuth is the fifth Democrat to retire; five others have left to seek other offices.

MORE RETIREMENTS ARE LIKELY as Democrats face the growing likelihood that they will lose control of the House next year. In the meantime, the party faces an increasingly close gubernatorial race in Virginia next month; former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is calling in some of the party’s leaders, including Barack Obama, to help him.

SHOULD THE DEMOCRATS LOSE VIRGINIA, the party will face a full-blown panic, as voters turn against President Biden amid growing restiveness over inflation, Covid policy, crime, immigration, etc. Failure to pass either of the two infrastructure bills — both still bogged down — would lead to speculation about other departures including Nancy Pelosi, who will turn 82 next spring.





The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of AGF, its subsidiaries or any of its affiliated companies, funds or investment strategies.

The views expressed in this blog are provided as a general source of information based on information available as of the date of publication and should not be considered as personal investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy and/or sell securities. Speculation or stated believes about future events, such as market or economic conditions, company or security performance, or other projections represent the beliefs of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of AGF, its subsidiaries or any of its affiliated companies, funds or investment strategies. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in these commentaries at the time of publication; however, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Market conditions may change and AGF accepts no responsibility for individual investment decisions arising from the use of or reliance on the information contained herein. Any financial projections are based on the opinions of the author and should not be considered as a forecast. The forward looking statements and opinions may be affected by changing economic circumstances and are subject to a number of uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the forward looking statements. The information contained in this commentary is designed to provide you with general information related to the political and economic environment in the United States. It is not intended to be comprehensive investment advice applicable to the circumstances of the individual.

AGF Investments is a group of wholly owned subsidiaries of AGF Management Limited, a Canadian reporting issuer. The subsidiaries included in AGF Investments are AGF Investments Inc. (AGFI), AGF Investments America Inc. (AGFA), AGF Investments LLC (AGFUS) and AGF International Advisors Company Limited (AGFIA). AGFA and AGFUS are registered advisors in the U.S. AGFI is a registered as a portfolio manager across Canadian securities commissions. AGFIA is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and registered with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. The subsidiaries that form AGF Investments manage a variety of mandates comprised of equity, fixed income and balanced assets.

About AGF Management Limited

Founded in 1957, AGF Management Limited (AGF) is an independent and globally diverse asset management firm. AGF brings a disciplined approach to delivering excellence in investment management through its fundamental, quantitative, alternative and high-net-worth businesses focused on providing an exceptional client experience. AGF’s suite of investment solutions extends globally to a wide range of clients, from financial advisors and individual investors to institutional investors including pension plans, corporate plans, sovereign wealth funds and endowments and foundations.

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This post was first published at the AGF Perspectives Blog.

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