Sunday, April 26, 2015

Thousands Give Up On Working In Brevard County

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida -- Over 4,000 people have left the labor force in Brevard County within the last year, according to data released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Friday.  

Brevard County's unemployment rate dropped from 7.4% in March 2014 to 6.0% in March 2015, which was entirely due to a labor force shrinking faster (-4,345 people) than job losses (-538 jobs) during the same period.

The shrinking of the labor force in Brevard County is part of a longer term trend that began in 2009. Over 10,000 people have either stopped working, stopped looking for work, or left Florida's Space Coast to find jobs elsewhere during the last six years (a labor force of 266,400 in March 2009 vs. 256,130 in March 2015), according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  data.

Meanwhile, Brevard County has only gained 77 jobs in the last six years (240,700 jobs in March 2009 vs. 240,777  in March 2015), according to BLS and DEO data.

Despite thousands of people leaving the workforce in Brevard County, the unemployment rate on Florida's Space Coast still remains significantly higher than that of the statewide Florida unemployment rate of 5.6%. 

Non-agricultural Employment (Non-Farm Payroll) Definition

It is important to understand how the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes employment when reviewing the jobs data.  That's because the "non-agricultural employment" (also referred to as "non-farm payrolls") does not mean every job except for work performed on farms.

The BLS defines non-agricultural employment as the total number of persons on establishment payrolls employed full- or part-time who received pay (whether they worked or not) for any part of the pay period that includes the 12th day of the month. Persons on the payroll of more than one establishment are counted in each establishment.

The non-agricultural employment number excludes: proprietors, self-employed, unpaid family or volunteer workers; farm workers; domestic workers; and persons on layoff the entire pay period, on leave without pay, on strike for the entire period, or who have a pending job but have not yet reported for work.

Government employment included in the non-farm payroll definition covers only civilian employees; it excludes uniformed members of the armed services.

Brevard County Sector Job Losses and Gains

Job gains in non-farm payrolls (+5,700) were unable to fully offset job losses in farm payrolls (-6,238) from March 2014 to March 2015, which resulted in a net loss of 538 jobs for the year. 

Non-agricultural job gains on the Space Coast were led by professional and business services (+1,900 jobs); education & health services and leisure & hospitality (+1,400 jobs each); and mining, logging, and construction (+600 jobs). Other industries that gained jobs over the year included manufacturing (+400 jobs); trade, transportation, utilities and financial activities (+300 jobs each).  Government (-700 jobs) was the only industry within the non-agricultural job category to lose jobs.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tech Sector, China Fuel Stock Market Gains

QUICK READ: A runaway bear market in Chinese stocks coupled with strong earnings for many major tech firms helped buoy U.S. equities this week. In spite of the Greek question remaining unresolved, the euro firmed up against the dollar on strong signs from the German economy. The softer dollar helped lift crude oil prices, although the precious metals could muster no such exuberance.

The dreaded tax season in the U.S. has been supplanted by first­-quarter corporate earnings season, with the results from 1Q sweeping through trading desks everywhere the last two weeks. The stock market saw renewed vigor on this data, which was fairly robust despite the profit­-eroding effects of a strong dollar for many firms. Both DuPont and Verizon topped analysts’ estimates of their quarterly revenue, and the broader market was buoyed by the continued solid performance of tech companies.

Although Wall Street took a shellacking last Friday, fortunes reversed to begin the week. A rising dollar early in the week put pressure on both gold and oil, though the latter was lifted by midweek on unrest in Yemen and a drop in overall output. Even with the EIA announcing a fresh 80-­year high for U.S. crude oil inventories, the major world benchmarks performed well over the course of the week: WTI and Brent crude settled at $57.75/bbl and $65.75/bbl, respectively, by Friday. This followed WTI crude touching a 2­and­1⁄2­month high the week previous.

Stocks opened higher before falling back just above unchanged on Tuesday and Wednesday, and generally repeated this pattern on Thursday and Friday, as well. Existing home sales saw their sharpest month-­to-­month increase in a year and a half during March, and Amazon impressed with both its 1Q revenues (up 15%) and the unveiling of data relating to its cloud service (valued at $5 billion). This helped shares of Amazon rise 7% on Thursday, while the tech-­heavy Nasdaq index pushed above 5,050 for its highest closing number since the dot- com bust 15 years ago. The S&P 500 and DJIA both lagged behind, but ended the week in the green.

McDonald’s reported less-­than-­stellar 1Q results, but still beat forecasts, sending the company’s shares up 4% on Wednesday. Part of the optimism was the fast food chain’s commitment to a new turnaround plan in order to remedy falling sales and revenues. It would appear that merely having a plan to speak of has helped restore some confidence in the beleaguered Mickey D’s.

Another factor placing upward pressure on U.S. equities was the Chinese stock market, which has been on an absolute tear. The country’s benchmark Shanghai index is up a staggering 50% over the last 6 months alone as the People’s Republic has introduced new stimulus measures and liberalized certain rules governing its stock exchanges. As equities seemingly overheat in what is now the world’s second­-largest stock market, the bullish exuberance is spilling over into the first­ and third-largest stock markets, the U.S. and Japan. For the first time in nearly 3 years, Japan saw a trade surplus in March, offering some hope that the country will be able to successfully re-balance its economy. The Nikkei 225 index surpassed 20,000 this week and held above this mark despite pulling back about 0.80% on Friday.

Though it experienced a mini­-rally early in the week, the dollar has eased back from its recent highs at 100.0 on the DXY, sliding some 3% from this high-water mark. This helped the euro gain against the dollar, moving from a low near $1.05 last week to about $1.08. European markets remain hesitant amid the polar forces of uncertainty in Greece and robust business sentiment in Germany. U.S. Treasuries saw some renewed demand, as the yield on the 10­-year note fluctuated between 1.90% and 1.95% for most of the week.

Despite the pullback for the dollar, the precious metals traded on shaky footing this week, with all of the metals aside from palladium experiencing modest losses. Wednesday was the worst single­-day trading session for gold in 6 weeks, as silver and the yellow metal each fell by about 1.5%. Gold pared its losses on Thursday, rising by about $7, while palladium gained over 2% on the day.

Not only has palladium been the best performer among the metals of late, it has also done well during the last two­-year period when the other three metals have been mired in a bear market. With platinum maintaining its uncommon $50 spread beneath spot gold, palladium is the beneficiary of displaced demand for a cheaper precious metal alternative. By week’s end, gold fell through support at $1,180/oz; platinum followed suit at $1,130/oz; silver slid to about $15.75/oz; and palladium settled near $780/oz.


The main economic data released in the U.S. on Monday will be the PMI Services Flash and the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey.

By Everett Millman, head content writer at Gainesville Coins, a leading gold and silver distributor.