For Wall Street, it’s not the political debate, it’s the economic data
The nation's headlines have been filled with surveys of Americans saying how they will vote this presidential election. Investors may be better served by focusing on the economic data underpinning voters' motivations.That means jobs and wages.The...
The nation’s headlines have been filled with surveys of Americans saying how they will vote this presidential election. Investors may be better served by focusing on the economic data underpinning voters’ motivations.
That means jobs and wages.
The latest set of work and wage statistics will be released on Friday.
And inside the data, investors will find a story that could well explain why Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are neck-and-neck.
While hundreds of thousands of new jobs have been created, the number of unemployed Americans has barely budged in the past year. More than 2 million Americans have gone without work for at least six months, a number that has been climbing again since May. The unemployment rate for blacks is twice that of whites and almost 50 percent higher than that of Hispanics. And, as usual, the least-educated workers face the toughest odds of landing a job.
These dynamics aren’t necessarily new, though. Months of positive jobs data have belied the underlying anxiety many American workers feel. That apprehension is heard by survey-takers when they ask, “What is the most important problem facing the country today?” Often, voters mention the economy and jobs among the top challenges.
Thankfully, for workers, average wages have begun trending up, albeit stubbornly so.
But annual worker productivity has gone negative, marking only the third time that has happened in the past 60 years without an accompanying economic recession.
Will Friday’s jobs report be a sneak peek at voter preferences? No. But it will reflect the economy that will be inherited by the next president and Congress. It is an economy that has been creating jobs but not necessarily economic opportunity. It is an economy that has seen recent pay hikes but stagnated productivity.
In a noisy political environment, long-term investors should focus on the data and not necessarily the debate.