INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET?

Takeaway: Underlying labor market trends continue to accelerate. Obamacare may be a growing factor.

Below is the detailed breakdown of this morning's claims data from our head of Financials, Josh Steiner.  If you would like to setup a call with Josh or trial his research, please contact 

 

 

Last week we pointed out that claims had been diverging from historical trends for four weeks. This week's print brings that divergence to five weeks. NSA claims last week were 12.5% lower than the same week last year. 4-week rolling NSA claims last week were lower by 9.3% vs last year, an improvement vs. 8.4% the prior week. The seasonally-adjusted data is obviously very strong as well.

 

To reiterate, the strength in the underlying labor market over the last few weeks is strong enough to more than offset the seasonality distortions we regularly highlight. This continues to turn the duck & cover in May dynamic on its head. It doesn't hurt that the housing metrics are also strengthening, though this shouldn't be surprising as the two (labor & housing) are closely co-integrated.

 

Is ACA Driving Hiring?

An interesting question worth asking is Why? Why is the labor market showing accelerating improvement? One hypothesis we've been considering is the ACA impact on low-wage, high employment industries like restaurants, hotels, etc. Under ACA (i.e. Obamacare), employers with 50+ employees must provide healthcare to employees who work 30 hours or more per week. Part-time (those under 30 hours) and temp workers are exempted from the requirement. Industries like restaurants and hotels, that employ huge numbers of relatively low-wage earners, would see their costs rise materially under ACA. Not surprisingly, many employers are quietly seeking to sidestep ACA by cutting workers to sub-30 hours and offsetting the lost hours by hiring additional part-time and temp workers.

 

Anecdotally, we've been reading a lot of articles about temp agencies seeing significantly higher demand of late. We ran across one that quoted an analyst at another firm saying that when Massachusetts implemented its universal healthcare plan, growth in hiring of temp workers in the state ran at six times the national average.

 

One thing to consider is that companies are treading very cautiously here from a PR standpoint. No employer wants to be seen as intentionally seeking to sidestep ACA requirements. So much of this is going on under the radar. As counterintuitive as it may seem, we think ACA is actually creating jobs in significant numbers, while simultaneously reducing many workers from full-time (40 hrs+) to part-time (sub 30). [Hedgeye Macro:  We would expect to see this dynamic manifest in a decline in weekly hours worked (also impacted by gov’t furloughs) and ave weekly earnings.  We observed some pressure across both measures in April with hours worked and weekly earnings declining  0.6%, and 0.4% month-over-month, respectively]

 

The Numbers

Prior to revision, initial jobless claims fell 1k to 323k from 324k WoW, as the prior week's number was revised up by 3k to 327k.

 

The headline (unrevised) number shows claims were lower by 4k WoW. Meanwhile, the 4-week rolling average of seasonally-adjusted claims fell -6.25k WoW to 336.75k.

 

The 4-week rolling average of NSA claims, which we consider a more accurate representation of the underlying labor market trend, was -9.3% lower YoY, which is a sequential improvement versus the previous week's YoY change of -8.4%.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 1

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 2

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 3

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 4

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 5

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 8

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 7

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: IS OBAMACARE ENERGIZING THE LABOR MARKET? - JS 6

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 


Cartoon of the Day: Bulls Leading the People

Investors rejoiced as centrist Emmanuel Macron edged out far-right Marine Le Pen in France's election day voting. European equities were up as much as 4.7% on the news.

read more

McCullough: ‘This Crazy Stat Drives Stock Market Bears Nuts’

If you’re short the stock market today, and your boss asks why is the Nasdaq at an all-time high, here’s the only honest answer: So far, Nasdaq company earnings are up 46% year-over-year.

read more

Who's Right? The Stock Market or the Bond Market?

"As I see it, bonds look like they have further to fall, while stocks look tenuous at these levels," writes Peter Atwater, founder of Financial Insyghts.

read more

Poll of the Day: If You Could Have Lunch with One Fed Chair...

What do you think? Cast your vote. Let us know.

read more

Are Millennials Actually Lazy, Narcissists? An Interview with Neil Howe (Part 2)

An interview with Neil Howe on why Boomers and Xers get it all wrong.

read more

6 Charts: The French Election, Nasdaq All-Time Highs & An Earnings Scorecard

We've been telling investors for some time that global growth is picking up, get long stocks.

read more

Another French Revolution?

"Don't be complacent," writes Hedgeye Managing Director Neil Howe. "Tectonic shifts are underway in France. Is there the prospect of the new Sixth Republic? C'est vraiment possible."

read more

Cartoon of the Day: The Trend is Your Friend

"All of the key trending macro data suggests the U.S. economy is accelerating," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough says.

read more

A Sneak Peek At Hedgeye's 2017 GDP Estimates

Here's an inside look at our GDP estimates versus Wall Street consensus.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Green Thumb

So far, 64 of 498 companies in the S&P 500 have reported aggregate sales and earnings growth of 6.1% and 16.8% respectively.

read more

Europe's Battles Against Apple, Google, Innovation & Jobs

"“I am very concerned the E.U. maintains a battle against the American giants while doing everything possible to sustain so-called national champions," writes economist Daniel Lacalle. "Attacking innovation doesn’t create jobs.”

read more

An Open Letter to Pandora Management...

"Please stop leaking information to the press," writes Hedgeye Internet & Media analyst Hesham Shaaban. "You are getting in your own way, and blowing up your shareholders in the process."

read more