昨日、いわゆるイースターのグッド・フライデーにもかかわらず、米国労働省から3月の米国雇用統計が発表されています。誠にお仕事熱心なことです。ヘッドラインとなる非農業部門雇用者数は季節調整済みの前月差で見て、市場の事前コンセンサスを大きく下回る+12万人にとどまった一方で、失業率は0.1%ポイント低下しました。評価の難しいところかもしれません。まず、長くなりますが、Wall Street Journal のサイトから記事の最初の8パラを引用すると以下の通りです。
U.S. Labor Market Slows Its Stride
U.S. employers throttled back hiring last month, undermining views that the recovery was gaining momentum but stirring investors' hopes of further steps by the Federal Reserve to spur the economy.
The government's main snapshot of the labor market showed employers added 120,000 jobs in March, half the upwardly revised number of the month before. That snapped a three-month streak of 200,000-plus jobs growth, the economy's best showing since 2006. There were bright spots: Wages inched up and governments cut just 1,000 jobs, suggesting the drag from big public-sector cutbacks is easing.
But mostly, the picture was disappointing at a time when all eyes are on the U.S. to help keep global growth humming. The jobless rate, which is obtained from a separate survey of households, edged down to 8.2% from 8.3%, its lowest point in three years. However, that decline was due less to new hiring than people abandoning their job searches.
Friday's report stirred fears of a repeat of what happened in the early part of the past two years, when signs of strength petered out as months ticked by. Consumers increased their borrowing in February, Federal Reserve data showed Friday, but use of credit cards dropped for the second month, suggesting a pullback on some expenses. But most economists cautioned it was too soon to conclude that a slowing trend is under way. Private economists and the Federal Reserve have predicted that job creation would moderate this year, given that overall demand growth remains subdued and the economy faces challenges such as higher oil prices.
Stock markets in the U.S. and Europe were closed for Good Friday but prices of futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank on the employment news, sending investors scrambling into bonds as the value of the dollar fell.
The weak report is likely to revive hope among investors that the Federal Reserve will do more to stimulate the economy later this year. However, the report by itself likely didn't send a strong-enough signal about the economy to spur a change in the Fed's stance. The central bank has indicated plans to keep short-term interest rates near zero into 2014 but reluctance to add to its unconventional bond-buying programs unless the outlook clearly deteriorates or inflation slows. The bond-buying programs are meant to drive down long-term interest rates and encourage spending and investment.
Friday's reading suggests the job market hasn't been quite as robust as earlier reports indicated, but doesn't point to a stall. Moreover, wage growth seemed to be firm. It was up 2.1% in March from a year earlier, right around the Fed's inflation objective of 2%. Taken together, the data suggest that while more action by the Fed to boost growth is still possible, the central bank likely hasn't moved strongly in that direction.
The report also added fuel to the presidential race. President Barack Obama, speaking Fridayat a White House event on women and the economy, zeroed in on private-sector growth to try to capture a more positive snapshot of the jobs outlook than the one reflected in the overall March report. He noted that 4 million private-sector jobs have been created in the past two years and more than 600,000 in the past three months.
最後に、景気循環のピークをベースにした雇用の増減は上のグラフの通りです。2011年のいわゆるITバブル崩壊後の景気後退期も Jobless Recovery と呼ばれましたが、約4年で雇用は回復しました。しかし、今回は50か月を過ぎても一向に景気後退前の水準に達する見通しが立ちません。