As the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession continues, annual gains in employment that had spiked in May are beginning to temper toward more normal levels. The U.S. gained 6.3 million jobs in the year-ending June, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This pace is down from the 8.6 million jobs gained in the year-ending May, and below the 10 million jobs added in April.
Looking back at the month of June, we see growth has slowed and the labor market appears to be leveling off. The month brought the first signs that the job market is cooling down. It’s not quite a summer slump, but maybe, just maybe, this slowdown signifies things could be (dare we say it?!?) returning to “normal.” While more than half of industries saw decline, several did see strong job growth last month. Topping the list are Real Estate and Rental and Leasing (+7.3%), Finance and Insurance (+6.8%), Information (+5.4%), and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (+6.8%).
Cash App was the most downloaded P2P payment app in the United States in the first half of 2021. Globally, it was the fifth most downloaded. See who took the #1 spot on the worldwide list here: Top 10 Most Downloaded P2P Payment Apps in the World in H1 2021. As a market, the top 10 P2P payment apps in the US increased downloads approximately 38.7% YoY to more than 90M. This total represents a 66.8% increase from H1 2019— a significant two-year gain. As mentioned in our global analysis, the United States is the leader in downloads for the P2P payment app market.
Dollar General has been accused of causing food deserts in low-income areas. While there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence on this, there has been little empirical evidence. By tracking Dollar General employees and comparing them to traditional grocery store employees, we are able to better understand the relationship between Dollar General and food deserts. Although both Dollar General and traditional grocery stores have been growing steadily
Wage inflation has been a hot topic of late, with many employers saying that they are having to raise compensation to attract workers. This is an area that touches every corner of the economy as labor is a key input in almost every industry. Even the Federal Reserve is starting to take note, last week indicating via its “dot plot” a median estimate of two rate hikes before the end of 2023. Since a dovish Fed has been a central thesis of bullish equity markets, investors will continue to pay close attention to wages.
Fears of inflation are heating up. But wages are telling a different story. This week we explore salaries to see what industries and jobs are most affected. In a previously published newsletter titled, Labor Markets are Not as Healthy as They Look, we documented an 8.8% decrease in salaries from March to August 2020. In the figure below, we continue to observe a similar trend by looking at the average salary for the past 3 years.
The number of carloads moved on short line and regional railroads in May 2021 was up compared to May 2020. Carloads originated increased 29.0 percent, from 286,673 in May 2020 to 369,862 in May 2021. Virtually all carload groups were up. Motor Vehicles and Equipment led gains again with a 384.3 percent increase. Petroleum Products was up 102.8 percent and Waste and Scrap Materials and Nonmetallic Minerals increased 67.6 and 65.7 percent respectively. Pulp, Paper and Allied Products was the only decline, down 0.3 percent in May.
The rapid increase of lumber prices has been all over the news throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and everyone seems to have their own explanation of why this trend has been occurring. From increased demand, to the lack of timber, to the Mountain Pine Beetle destroying trees, or to the impacts of clearcutting, each of these explanations are true to varying degrees. But they’re also not the complete picture. When it comes to pricing, it’s important to distinguish between _demand for lumber_ and the _supply chain for lumber products_.
Recently, Consumer Discretionary (CD) has been an interesting sector to analyze. Due to its non-essential nature, COVID’s impact on the sector cannot be denied. However, as it looks like we are turning a corner on the pandemic, CD seems to be undergoing shifts that make it worth taking a closer look. We can see from the S&P 500 index that Consumer Discretionary took a significant hit right after the onset of COVID, as one might expect. But since then CD has had a strong recovery.
As one of the strongest performing retail sectors during the pandemic, the grocery sector showed exceptional offline strength by quickly adapting to a new pandemic-influenced reality. Yet, nearly halfway through 2021, it is increasingly clear the return to normalcy is in full swing, and with that, the need to adapt to a changing environment once again. To leverage last year’s surge and position themselves up for longer-term growth, grocers must understand which trends are here to stay and which are not.
Gas prices and futures (contracts to buy gasoline at some point in the future) have been up massively over the last few months, to the extent that some traders are betting on the return of $100 oil/barrel before the end of the year (Options Traders Bet on Return of $100 Oil ). It was reasonable to expect that with US reopening after the pandemic we would see an increased demand in travel, and gasoline demand as a result.
The U.S. employment recovery accelerated in May, but recent gains were still below economists’ expectations. Employers added almost 560,000 jobs in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). April’s disappointing gains were revised up to 278,000 jobs from the initially reported 266,000 jobs and March’s data was revised up by 15,000 jobs to 785,000 jobs gained as the factors hindering a stronger jobs recovery continue to be debated.
Lumber prices have tripled since June 2020, adding an average of $24,000 to the price of a new US home; and reports from Canada show that timber poaching is increasing as a result. Sawmills were idle during the pandemic lockdown, so the usual inventory build over winter did not happen. These technical constraints on supply are colliding head on with a spike in demand as housebuilding restarts, with the added pressure of the post-COVID desire for larger houses.
Winter Storm Uri in February of this year ravaged much of the country, with the strongest impact in states with little snow experience such as Texas. But not all businesses were plowed under by the storm. Grocers actually saw a lift in sales in the days prior as snow-shy shoppers stocked up on essentials in anticipation of rough road conditions and grocery closures. In today’s Insight Flash we take advantage of our partnership with WeatherOptics and our newly launched WeatherOptics Signal dashboards to dig into which grocers were the most impacted
In a year when employees gained more freedom to work remotely, population shifts gravitated away from the expensive gateway areas, toward more affordable parts of the country. As a result, some of the nation’s big gateway markets saw dramatic population declines in 2020, while many Sun Belt markets were magnets for in-migration. Weakening performance among the nation’s gateway apartment markets has been a common theme in the past year
The pandemic raised new questions, new challenges, brought new opportunities, and accelerated the need for data-driven decisions across many industries. We recently teamed up with our partners at PwC to share our approach for enhancing existing demand models using multiple datasets and to show an example of how they’re built in the PwC ecosystem. We discussed from our respective points of view how demand changed, and how it can affect your planning.
Over the last several weeks, inflation concerns have been a hot topic, as the combination of increased demand as the country reopens, supply chain constraints and high commodity prices has pushed up prices across categories. Although categories like used cars and gas saw the most dramatic increases last month, CPG companies have felt the impact as well.
The number of carloads moved on short line and regional railroads in April 2021 was up compared to April 2020. Carloads originated increased 18.9 percent, from 305,350 in April 2020 to 363,021 in April 2021. Virtually all carload groups were up. Motor Vehicles and Equipment led gains with a 212.0 percent increase. Nonmetallic Minerals was up 82.9 percent and Waste and Scrap Materials and Petroleum Products increased 54.9 and 50.8 percent respectively.
In the last year, the dollar store sector has clearly been among the better positioned segments within all of retail. And there is real reason to believe that this is just the beginning. Brands like Dollar General and Big Lots are poised for big things in the next year, and new concepts like Dollar General’s Popshelf could make the coming years even more exciting for an increasingly sophisticated sector.