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April Payrolls Rise More Than Expected But Wage Growth Slows And Participation Rate Drops

April Payrolls Rise More Than Expected But Wage Growth Slows And Participation Rate Drops

With bulls hoping and praying for a terrible payrolls…

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April Payrolls Rise More Than Expected But Wage Growth Slows And Participation Rate Drops

With bulls hoping and praying for a terrible payrolls print - ideally something in the mins 1 million range - and for a big slowdown in wage growth, moments ago the BLS reported a mixed bag for April data, with headline payrolls rising 428K, above the 380K expected (which is in the "good news is bad news" camp), however at the same time average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, below the 0.4% expected (and 0.5% March increase) while the unemployment rate was flat at 3.6%, above the 3.5% expected (both of which are "bad news is good news").

Amusingly, the March payroll print was downward revised to 428K from 431K, the exact same as the March print. Looking further back, the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised down by 36,000, from +750,000 to +714,000, and the change for March was revised down by 3,000, from +431,000 to +428,000. With these revisions, employment in February and March combined is 39,000 lower than previously reported.

Total payrolls are now about 1.2 million lower than the peak hit before the pandemic. At the April hiring pace, that gap will be made up by July.

The unemployment rate was flat at 3.6%, above consensus expectations of a drop to 3.5%.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), adult women (3.2 percent), teenagers (10.2 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.9 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (4.1 percent) showed little or no change over the month. It is worth noting that the overall unemployment rate is at pre-covid levels, while the rate for blacks and hispanics is now even better than pre-covid.

Curiously, even as the unemployment rate was flat, the labor force participation rate actually declined from 62.4% to 62.2%, a move that will disappoint the Fed which has been pushing for an "inclusive" boost to the labor force. The drop was due to a 363K drop in the civilian labor force offset by a 115K increase in the civilian population.

Looking at wages, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 10 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $31.85 in April, below the 0.4% expected. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.5 percent, in line with expectations.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.6 hours in April, below the 34.7 expected. In manufacturing, the average workweek for all employees fell by 0.2 hour to 40.5 hours, and overtime held at 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.1 hours.

Some more details from the Household Survey:

  • The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was little changed at 4.0million in April and is down by 357,000 from its February 2020 level. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
  • The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was little changed at 5.9 million in April. This measure is above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.
  • Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force increased by 262,000 in April to 1.6 million. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, numbered 456,000 in April, little different from the prior month.
  • In April, 7.7 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 10.0 percent in the prior month. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey specifically because of the pandemic.
  • In April, 1.7 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic--that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey due to the pandemic. This measure is down from 2.5 million in the previous month. Among those who reported in April that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 19.0 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, little different from the prior month.
  • Among those not in the labor force in April, 586,000 persons were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, down from 874,000 in the prior month.

Turning to the Establishment survey, we find the following:

  • Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 78,000 in April. Job growth continued in food services and drinking places (+44,000) and accommodation (+22,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.4 million, or 8.5 percent, since February 2020.
  • Manufacturing added 55,000 jobs in April. Employment in durable goods rose by 31,000, with gains in transportation equipment (+14,000) and machinery (+7,000). Nondurable goods added 24,000 jobs, with job growth in food manufacturing (+8,000) and plastics and rubber products (+6,000). Since February 2020, manufacturing employment is down by 56,000, or 0.4 percent.
  • Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 52,000 in April. Within the industry, job gains occurred in warehousing and storage (+17,000), couriers and messengers (+15,000), truck transportation (+13,000), and air transportation (+4,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing is 674,000 above its February 2020 level, led by strong growth in warehousing and storage (+467,000) and in couriers and messengers (+259,000).
  • In April, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up (+41,000). Since February 2020, employment in the industry is up by 738,000.
  • Financial activities added 35,000 jobs in April, led by a gain in insurance carriers and related activities (+20,000). Employment also rose in nondepository credit intermediation (+6,000) and in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+5,000). Employment in financial activities is 71,000 higher than in February 2020.
  • Health care employment rose by 34,000 in April, reflecting a gain in ambulatory health care services (+28,000). Employment in health care is down by 250,000, or 1.5 percent, since February 2020.
  • Employment in retail trade increased by 29,000 in April. Job gains in food and beverage stores (+24,000) and general merchandise stores (+12,000) were partially offset by losses in building material and garden supply stores (-16,000) and health and personal care stores (-9,000). Retail trade employment is 284,000 above its level in February 2020.
  • In April, wholesale trade employment rose by 22,000. Employment in the industry is down by 57,000, or 1.0 percent, since February 2020.
  • Mining added 9,000 jobs in April, with a gain in oil and gas extraction (+5,000). Mining employment is 73,000 higher than a recent low in February 2021.
  • Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including construction, information, other services, and government.

And visually:

Sources of strength in the print was employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 78,000 in April. Manufacturing added 55,000 jobs -- much more than expected. Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 52,000 in April.

Commenting on the report, Randy Kroszner, economics professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and former Fed governor, tells Bloomberg TV that lots of people are still unsure of entering the labor force.

“That’s going to be a continuing constraint on growth because you’re just not going to see as much labor force participation and that’s going to continue wage pressure.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/06/2022 - 08:35

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Shedding light on reptilian health: Researchers investigate origins of snake fungal disease in U.S.

Although only recently recognized as an issue in wildlife ecology, snake fungal disease (SFD) is of emerging concern in the U.S., with parallels among…

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Although only recently recognized as an issue in wildlife ecology, snake fungal disease (SFD) is of emerging concern in the U.S., with parallels among other better-known wildlife fungal diseases such as white-nose syndrome in bats. SFD can be deadly to snakes, and even in milder cases disrupts an animal’s abilities to perform normal biological functions such as hibernation, eating and avoiding predators.

Credit: Northern Arizona University

Although only recently recognized as an issue in wildlife ecology, snake fungal disease (SFD) is of emerging concern in the U.S., with parallels among other better-known wildlife fungal diseases such as white-nose syndrome in bats. SFD can be deadly to snakes, and even in milder cases disrupts an animal’s abilities to perform normal biological functions such as hibernation, eating and avoiding predators.

To better understand SFD, a team of researchers, including assistant professor Jason Ladner of Northern Arizona University’s Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, conducted a genetic study of the pathogen that was recently published in PLOS Biology, “The population genetics of the causative agent of snake fungal disease indicate recent introductions to the USA.”

Collaborating with study co-author Jeff Lorch of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other scientists from the USGS, Genencor Technology Center, the University of California-Riverside, Stetson University, the Institute of Zoology, the University of Kentucky and Holyoke Community College, Ladner’s goal was to determine whether SFD originated in the U.S. or was introduced from outside the country, which could provide a historical basis for how it emerged—and ultimately inform management of the disease. 

“Snake fungal disease first came to be recognized in the U.S. around 2008. There happened to be a well-studied population of rattlesnakes in Illinois that started coming down with some very severe fungal infections. People asked, ‘OK, what is this thing? Where is it? What’s going on? Is this a new emerging fungal pathogen or not?’ What they eventually found was that it was already almost everywhere, at least in the eastern half of the U.S.,” Ladner said. 

SFD, though seemingly not as deadly as other wildlife fungal diseases, is still a worrying threat to animals that represent an important part of the ecosystem. “We’re very concerned, not just about SFD’s effect to drive population declines, but also as a contributing factor amongst many other threats that snakes are already facing, like habitat destruction or over-collection for the pet trade,” Lorch said. 

Understanding wildlife diseases is critical, both in the context of ecosystem health and in their potential effects on humans. “I have a lot of interest in wildlife diseases, partially because wildlife serves as important reservoirs for diseases that could potentially emerge in humans; SARS-coronavirus-2 is a great example of that. If we want to be prepared for the next emerging infectious disease in humans, we need to better understand the pathogens currently circulating in wildlife populations which may have the potential to be transmitted to humans,” Ladner said. 

The study presented unique difficulties, however. “For snakes, there’s almost no long-term population trend data, especially when we compare snakes to an animal like bats, which have suffered from white-nose syndrome,” Lorch said. “In many states, historical data on bat populations exists because they’re not generally as difficult to monitor as some other types of wildlife.”

Snakes, in contrast, “are pretty secretive animals. They’re not something that you probably see on the landscape routinely, unless you’re looking for them,” Lorch explains. Without a large body of historical data on North American snake populations, “it makes it hard to say what snake populations were doing before SFD was noticed. Long-term trends are really difficult to decipher.”

Prior to beginning research, the team had two hypotheses on how the disease originated in the U.S. “One hypothesis was that the fungus that causes this disease may have been introduced only recently into the U.S. and then has been spreading within the past several decades, maybe 100 years. The alternative hypothesis was that this pathogen has been here for a long time and is essentially native to the U.S.; maybe it’s been here for thousands of years and has been co-evolving with these snake populations. In the latter case, maybe it seems to be emerging simply because we’re looking for it now. Or there’s been some type of environmental change, maybe something linked to climate change, that is leading to an increase in the number of cases even though this pathogen has been here all along,” Ladner said.

In order to track the disease’s evolution, Ladner and Lorch created a “family tree” for strains of the fungus that causes SFD found in the U.S. “One of the ways we could reconstruct the history of the disease was to look at the genetics of the pathogen to get an idea of how long it’s been here and how it’s changed over time,” Lorch said. 

Studying the genetics of SFD provided the team with a trail of breadcrumbs, revealing more about its history and throwing light on SFD cases in the U.S. “The reason that genomic data is useful for doing this is because each time this fungus replicates, grows and divides, the polymerase (the molecule that makes the new copy) sometimes makes mistakes. Those mistakes result in mutations. And then those mutations will be passed on through the generations. By looking at those different mutations in the population, we can understand how long certain lineages have existed and have some idea of how the different strains are related to each other. And that can tell us something about how long SFD has been here,” Ladner said. 

After taking samples from different SFD-affected snakes, the team performed genetic sequencing on 82 strains of the fungus. This included strains of SFD isolated from wild snakes in the U.S. and Europe, as well as captive snakes from three different continents. Based on the genetic similarities and differences among the strains, the team was able to partially reconstruct the evolutionary history of this fungus. “In the U.S., we found that there are several divergent lineages of this fungus circulating, but a lack of intermediates between these lineages, which would be expected if they originated in the U.S. Because of that, we think that there were likely multiple, somewhat recent introductions of this fungus to the U.S., and that an unsampled population, somewhere else in the world, acted as a source,” Ladner said.

This evidence allowed the team to form conclusions on how SFD arrived in America. “It suggests that this fungus was introduced to the United States through anthropogenic means—humans moving these snakes around. The most likely culprit is the trading of captive snakes as pets: the different clonal lineages that we see in the U.S., we also see represented in captive snake populations,” Ladner said. 

The study provides guidance for future management of SFD in the U.S., as well as a better understanding of how it was introduced. “If we had caught SFD being introduced very early on, then you can imagine trying to stop the spread of the disease in the U.S. and potentially even eradicate it. I think that’s unlikely at this point, given how widespread it is. However, I think it’s still helpful to better understand the mechanism for how SFD was introduced, as there’s still the potential for new introductions of diverse strains from these source populations. If we know that this fungus was introduced several times over the past several decades through the captive animal trade, then putting more restrictions and controls and testing animals in that process could be important for preventing further spread,” Ladner said. 

Though their work provides critical insight on SFD, its treatment and movement in the U.S., both scientists stress the need for further research. “What I’m hoping is that this study increases awareness of the disease. I think SFD warrants more of our attention,” Lorch said. 

More work needs to be done to assess the ecosystem, population and species effects of SFD. “The broader question of, ‘what is going to be the impact of this fungal pathogen on these snake populations?’ is a very open question and needs more research,” Ladner said.

About Northern Arizona University

Founded in 1899, Northern Arizona University is a higher-research institution providing exceptional educational opportunities and outcomes in Arizona and beyond. NAU delivers a student-centered experience to its nearly 30,000 students in Flagstaff, statewide and online through rigorous academic programs in a supportive, inclusive and diverse environment. As a community-engaged engine of opportunity, NAU powers social impact and economic mobility for the students and communities it serves. The university’s longstanding history of educating and partnering with diverse students and communities throughout Arizona is enhanced by its recent designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). Dedicated, world-renowned faculty and staff help ensure students achieve academic excellence, experience personal growth, have meaningful research and experiential learning opportunities and are positioned for personal and professional success. Located on the Colorado Plateau, in one of the highest-ranked college towns in the country, the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus is truly a jewel of the Southwest.

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China Suggests It Could Maintain ‘Zero COVID’ Policy For 5 Years

China Suggests It Could Maintain ‘Zero COVID’ Policy For 5 Years

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

China has suggested it will…

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China Suggests It Could Maintain 'Zero COVID' Policy For 5 Years

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

China has suggested it will maintain its controversial ‘zero COVID’ policy for at least 5 years, eschewing natural immunity and guaranteeing repeated rounds of new lockdowns.

“In the next five years, Beijing will unremittingly grasp the normalization of epidemic prevention and control,” said a story published by Beijing Daily.

The article quoted Cai Qi, the Communist Party of China’s secretary in Beijing and a former mayor of the city, who said that ‘zero COVID’ approach would remain in place for 5 years.

After the story prompted alarm, reference to “five years” was removed from the piece and the hashtag related to it was censored by social media giant Weibo.

“Monday’s announcement and the subsequent amendment sparked anger and confusion among Beijing residents online,” reports the Guardian.

“Most commenters appeared unsurprised at the prospect of the system continuing for another half-decade, but few were supportive of the idea.”

Although western experts severely doubt official numbers coming out of China, Beijing claimed success in limiting COVID deaths by enforcing the policy throughout 2021.

However, this meant that China never achieved anything like herd immunity, and at one stage the Omicron variant caused more more coronavirus cases in Shanghai in four weeks than in the previous two years of the entire pandemic.

Back in May, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggested that China would be better off if it abandoned the policy, but Beijing refused to budge.

As we previously highlighted, the only way of enforcing a ‘zero COVID’ policy is via brutal authoritarianism.

In Shanghai, children were separated from their parents in quarantine facilities and others were left without urgent treatment like kidney dialysis.

Panic buying of food also became a common occurrence as the anger threatened to spill over into widespread civil unrest.

Former UK government COVID-19 advisor Neil Ferguson previously admitted that he thought “we couldn’t get away with” imposing Communist Chinese-style lockdowns in Europe because they were too draconian, and yet it happened anyway.

“It’s a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought,” said Ferguson.

“And then Italy did it. And we realised we could,” he added.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 06/28/2022 - 18:05

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No sign of major crude oil price decline any time soon

Bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing Crude oil prices fell last week, notching their second weekly decline in the face of…

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Bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing

Crude oil prices fell last week, notching their second weekly decline in the face of concern that rising interest rates could push the global economy into recession.

Yet the future of crude oil still seems bullish to many. Spare capacity, or lack of it, is just one of the reasons.

The global surplus of crude production capacity in May was less than half the 2021 average, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Friday.

The EIA estimated that as of May, producers in nations not members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had about 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) of surplus capacity, down sharply from 1.4 million bpd in 2021. It said 60 per cent of the May 2021 figure was from Russia, which is increasingly under sanctions related to its invasion of Ukraine.

The OPEC+ alliance of oil producers is running out of capacity to pump crude, and that includes its most significant member, Saudi Arabia, Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva told Bloomberg last week.

“Some people believe the prices to be a little bit on the high side and expect us to pump a little bit more, but at this moment there is really little additional capacity,” Sylva said in a briefing with reporters on Friday. “Even Saudi Arabia, Russia, of course, Russia, is out of the market now more or less.” Nigeria was also unable to fulfil its output obligations, added Sylva.

Recent COVID-19-related lockdowns in parts of China – the world’s largest crude importer – also played a significant role in the global oil dynamics. The lack of Chinese oil consumption due to the lockdowns helped keep the markets in a check – somewhat.

Oil prices haven’t peaked yet because Chinese demand has yet to return to normal, a United Arab Emirates official told a conference in Jordan early this month. “If we continue consuming, with the pace of consumption we have, we are nowhere near the peak because China is not back yet,” UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said. “China will come with more consumption.”

Al-Mazrouei warned that without more investment across the globe, OPEC and its allies can’t guarantee sufficient supplies of oil as demand fully recovers from the pandemic.

But the check on the Chinese crude consumption seems to be easing.

On Saturday, Beijing, a city of 21 million-plus people, announced that primary and secondary schools would resume in-person classes. And as life seemed to return to normal, the Universal Beijing Resort, which was closed for nearly two months, reopened on Saturday.

Chinese economic hub Shanghai, with a population of 28 million-plus people, also declared victory over COVID after reporting zero new local cases for the first time in two months.

The two major cities were among several places in China that implemented curbs to stop the spread of the omicron wave from March to May.

But the easing of sanctions should mean oil’s price trajectory will resume its upward march.

In the meantime, in the U.S., the Biden administration is eying tougher anti-smog requirements. According to Bloomberg, that could negatively impact drilling across parts of the Permian Basin, which straddles Texas and New Mexico and is the world’s biggest oil field.

While the world is looking for clues about what the loss of supply from Russia will mean, reports are pouring in that the ongoing political turmoil in Libya could plague its oil output throughout the year.

The return of blockades on oilfields and export terminals amid renewed political tension is depriving the market of some of Libya’s oil at a time of tight global supply, said Tsvetana Paraskova in a piece for Oilrpice.com.

And in the ongoing political push to strangle Russian energy output, the G7 was reportedly discussing a price cap on oil imports from Russia. Western countries are increasingly frustrated that their efforts to squeeze out Russian energy supplies from the markets have had the counterproductive effect of driving up the global crude price, which is leading to Russia earning more money for its war chest.

To tackle the issue, and increase pressure on Russia, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is proposing a price cap on Russian crude oil sales. The idea is to lift the sanction on insurance for Russian crude cargo for countries that accept buying Russian oil at an agreed maximum price. Her proposal is aimed at squeezing Russian crude out of the market as much as possible.

So the bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing.

By Rashid Husain Syed

Toronto-based Rashid Husain Syed is a respected energy and political analyst. The Middle East is his area of focus. As well as writing for major local and global newspapers, Rashid is also a regular speaker at major international conferences. He has provided his perspective on global energy issues to the Department of Energy in Washington and the International Energy Agency in Paris.

Courtesy of Troy Media

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