Global CEO confidence increased slightly in the first quarter following a sharp decline in the fourth quarter, according to The Conference Board. Its measure of CEO confidence edged up to a level of 43 from 42 in the fourth quarter, which was the lowest reading since the third quarter of 2012. A reading of more than 50 reflects more positive responses than negative ones.
Global consumer confidence decreased slightly in the first quarter but remains at historically high levels, according to a new index launched by The Conference Board. The measure of consumer confidence edged down to a level of 106 from 107 in the fourth quarter.
The Economy – Canada
Employment in Canada edged down slightly in March from February following increases in the two prior months, according to seasonally adjusted numbers from Statistics Canada. However, in the first quarter of 2019, employment rose by 116,000. Canada lost approximately 6,400 full-time jobs and 900 part-time jobs during March. Total employment exceeded 18.9 million, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8%.
Canadian employment rose by 13,200 jobs in March from February, according to the ADP Canada national employment report. The February total of jobs added was revised down from a gain of 36,200 to a loss of 21,200 jobs.
The Canadian staffing index, which measures staffing activity in Canada, fell 3% in March on a year-over-year basis to a reading of 102. Compared to February, the index was up 15% in March.
The Economy – US
U.S. PC sales dropped 6.3% during the first quarter of 2019 as vendors were hit hard by processor shortages, according to research firm Gartner. Shipments of PCs in the U.S. fell for all five of the top vendors — HP Inc., Dell, Lenovo, Apple and Microsoft — during the first three months of the year, Gartner said.
The Conference Board’s US Employment Trends Index declined in March, following an increase in February. The index stood at 110.98 in March, down from an upwardly revised reading of 111.62 in February. However, the year-over-year change remains positive at 3.1%.
Private-sector employment in the US rose by 129,000 in March, according to the ADP National Employment Report. This is a decline from the 197,000 jobs added in February and the smallest gain in 18 months. February’s gain was revised upwards from the initially reported 183,000.
Surging labor costs and slower revenue growth this year will likely lead to a decline in corporate profits in both the US and other advanced economies, according to research conducted by The Conference Board. The analysis forecasts companies in the US that may experience the biggest declines are those employing many blue-collar workers, who now command higher pay due to their scarcity. Because the US economy has far more available jobs than available workers, companies are changing their recruiting strategies, the research points out. This includes lowering educational requirements and increasing telecommuting.
Economic growth in the US will likely be moderate to 2% this year, The Conference Board forecasts in its US Leading Economic Index.
Employment continued to increase nationwide in March and early April, according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report. Employment increased across a variety of industries, with increases most highly concentrated in high-skilled jobs. However, labor markets remained tight, restraining the rate of growth. The Beige Book, a collection of observations from the 12 federal regional banks, provides a snapshot of current economic conditions.
The tight labor market also led to continued wage pressures, with moderate wage growth in most districts.
IT employment in the US ticked down slightly in March from February for the third consecutive month, the TechServe Alliance announced. The number of IT jobs in the US edged down to about 5.34 million jobs, according to the group, which serves as the national trade association of the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry. On a year-over-year basis, IT employment was up by only 0.16% in March with 8,600 more IT workers than the previous year. TechServe Alliance referred to "a supply side phenomenon, the ongoing shortage of IT talent has become a huge obstacle for many businesses in the US. … We see no relief in sight with the promise of an ever more restrictive approach to immigration."
The TechServe Alliance also measures engineering employment, which edged up by 0.14% in March from February. Engineering employment rose 2.47% on a year-over-year basis, an increase of 63,900 engineering workers. Engineering employment increased by 0.14 percent sequentially to 2,648,100. On a year-over-year basis, growth in engineering employment increased by 2.47% since March 2018 or 63,900 engineering workers.
Economists expect economic expansion to continue within the next 12 months, according to a Business Conditions Survey from the National Association for Business Economics.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index improved in April, after decreasing in March. The index rose to a reading of 129.2 (1985=100) from 124.2 in March.
US real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the first quarter, according to the "advance" estimate of GDP growth from the US Commerce Department. The gain was well above forecasts, MarketWatch reported; its poll of economists had forecast first-quarter GDP would rise at a rate of 2.3%. However, the Federal Reserve is not expected to change its patient approach to interest-rate policy despite the strong report.
The Economy – Outside North America
The employment rate for OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, increased by 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2018 when compared to the same period a year ago. Across the OECD area, 571 million people were employed in the fourth quarter of 2018. The OECD says the employment gain mainly reflects higher labour force participation rates and, to a lesser extent, a fall in the unemployment rate.
The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate stood at 7.8% in February 2019, down from 8.5% in February 2018. This remains the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since October 2008, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
Permanent staff appointments by recruitment consultancies in the UK in March declined at the quickest rate since July 2016 amid uncertainty related to the UK’s decision to leave the EU, according to the latest Report on Jobs from IHS Markit/REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) and professional services firm KPMG. The fall in permanent placements in March was also the second decline in three months.
Northern Ireland’s private sector employment level fell at its fastest rate in nearly six years, while business activity also decreased for the first time since July 2016, according to March data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Purchasing Manager Index. The Index suggested that Brexit uncertainty pushed the Northern Ireland private sector into decline in March.
The employment rate for professionals under 25 years of age in Spain stood at 66.5% in 2018, the second-highest rate in the last 10 years, according to a study from Randstad Spain. The 66.5% employment rate was the highest since 2008’s rate of 71%, this was then followed by five consecutive years of declines falling to a low of 45.1% in 2013. The rate has grown steadily in the past five years to its current 66.5%. Randstad also found that that the higher the educational level, the higher the employment rate was among workers under 25.
Companies in France intend to increase hiring by 14.8% in 2019 when compared to last year, according to a survey from Pôle Emploi. The survey, ‘Workforce Requirements of Enterprises’ shows 2.69 million recruitment projects in 2019, up 350,000 from last year and the highest level of recruitment projects observed since the beginning of the decade.
The Swiss registered unemployment rate fell to 2.5% in March 2019 from 2.9% in the same period last year, according to figures from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Australia fell to 5.0% in March 2019, down 0.5% when compared to the same period the previous year, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The data from ABS also showed that the number of unemployed persons in Australia in February stood at 680,000, this is down 6.1% compared to the previous year.
Hiring activity in India registered a 12% growth in March compared with the same period last year according to the latest Naukri JobSpeak Index. The Naukri JobSpeak Index for March 2019 stood at 2,378, up from the March 2018 Index figure of 2,129.
India’s automobile industry may see hiring grow by 10 to 15% in fiscal year 2020 compared to the previous year, reports the Economic Times, citing a study from PeopleStrong. The expected growth in recruitment comes as new products and technologies, expanding capacity and stiffer emission rules kick in, providing employment opportunities at both leading car manufacturers as well as component makers.
The unemployment rate in Malaysia stood at 3.3% in February 2019, steady when compared to February 2018, according to data from Statistics Malaysia. The total number of unemployed persons in February stood at 516,400 persons, up 1.6% compared to February 2018.
Singapore’s labour market saw total employment grow slightly compared to the previous year, while overall unemployment remained steady, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s latest report, ‘Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 1Q 2019.’ The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate (2.2%) was slightly higher than the same period last year (2.0%).
Japan’s jobless rate stood at 2.5% in March 2019, steady compared to the same period last year, according to data from Statistics Japan. The number of unemployed persons in March 2019 was 1.74 million, an increase of 10,000 or 0.6% from the previous year. On a seasonally adjusted basis the unemployment rate also stood at 2.5%.
Growth in developing East Asia and the Pacific is projected to soften to 6.0% in 2019 and 2020, down from 6.3% in 2018, largely reflecting global headwinds and a continued gradual policy-guided slowdown in China, according to a report from the World Bank. The report said domestic demand has remained strong in much of the region, partly offsetting the impact of slowing exports.
The jobless rate in Taiwan rose by 0.02% in March 2019 to 3.68%, year-on-year, according to data from the Directorate General of Budget Accounting and Statistics.