Sun, May 26, 2024

Simon Says: LMI shows signs of slowing

In November, employment in the Augusta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) fell by 400 to 244,800. Unemployment remained at 3.8% for the seventh consecutive month. 170 persons left the workforce and average weekly earnings decreased by $8 to $980. The average hours worked fell to 34.1. Overall, the Labor Market Index (LMI), which is a component index of the five labor market indicators described above fell 0.2 percent. The three-month moving average continued to be positive, and the index is above the level of a year ago. However, the rate of growth in the three-month moving average is slowing as shown below.

Given the small change in overall employment, it is no surprise that many sectors saw little to no change in their employment levels in November. One sector that saw a large decline was retail with a loss of 600 jobs (see below). This is surprising because November is the start of the holiday season with an increase in retail spending. However, it does reflect a decline in consumer sentiment as reported by The University of Michigan. Consumer sentiment has been declining since July. Another consumer confidence index, produced by the Conference Board suggests a sharp uptick in consumer confidence in December, so that may be reflected in the December retail numbers.

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