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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Jobs and Inflation

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The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) The week of May 31: jobs and inflation, the infrastructure binge, digital currency, and much, much more.

I had hoped that this letter would be an opportunity to revert to the meme (stolen joke), with an erudite discussion of the AMC phenomenon and the market of the apes, but I have a suspicion that Daniel Tenreiro is writing on something related to that at just this moment. So I will leave you for now with this splendid piece (click on the link) of investment analysis and trudge wearily over to the jobs report, and more to the point, inflation.

In an earlier post, I described the jobs report as “something for everyone.” And by that I meant that the May number (559,000) was better than April’s (278,000), but worse than expectations (~ 650,000). That provided ammunition to those who argue that the Fed should keep on doing what it’s doing (too much, since you asked) and pleased the stock markets. That mix meant that President Biden was able to boast that the job creation was “due in no small part to the bold action we took with the American Rescue Plan,” while his supporters could make the case that still more needed to be done — bring on the trillions!

It’s a good rule that not too much should be made of monthly data, even more so when they are being distorted by a pandemic, but it was also worth noting the acceleration in wage gains, which, as CNBC reported “rose 2% year over year from being up just 0.4% in April.”

CNBC continued:

Economists had largely been dismissive of average hourly earnings numbers for much of the post-pandemic period, noting that the bulk of hires came from higher-earning positions, which made wages look like they were rising for everyone but left many low-wage workers out of gains.

With the return of more hospitality workers in May, the numbers are more relevant now and indicative of rising wage pressures across the economy, not just

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