Attackers breached a telecommunication company in a massive data espionage campaign, said U.S.-Israeli cyber firm Cybereason, naming the breach Operation Soft Cell. In one scenario, the attack was carried out in four waves in a period of six months, each using different tools and malicious payloads. It grew increasingly sophisticated with every subsequent wave, using custom tools previously unknown to researchers. In a blog post, Cybereason said that there’s a "very high probability that the threat actor behind these malicious operations is backed by a nation state and is affiliated with China." Furthermore, Cyberreason noted that the attacker’s motive, tactics, and indicators of compromise, closely resemble ATP10, a known Chinese hacker group. Cybereason has yet to disclose the extent of the breach and the number of affected records, nor has it released information about which companies were breached and their location.
The Economy – Canada
Overall Canadian IT spending is down, but software and AI spending is going up – way up. Canadian IT spending dropped from its 3.5 per cent year-over-year growth in 2018 to a projected 1.1 per cent in 2019, and while there were some noticeable dips in hardware spending, software that supports cybersecurity and big data, alongside investments in AI, are on the rise. Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda Survey showed that 24 per cent of Canadian CIOs plan to increase investment in AI, up from 2 per cent in 2018. Additionally, Gartner’s AI business value forecast predicts that Canadian organizations will receive $36 billion worth of benefit from the use of AI this year alone. Canadian IT spending overall is projected to total $87.8 billion in 2019. CIOs are decreasing spending on: Infrastructure and data centres, networking, software development or upgrades, enterprise resource planning, and communications.
Employment in Canada rose by 0.1% in May on a month-over-month basis to approximately 19.1 million, according to seasonally adjusted numbers from Statistics Canada. In addition, the unemployment rate fell to 5.4% in May — the lowest since comparable data became available in 1976 — from 5.7% in April. Job gains in Canada were all in full-time employment, which increased by 27,700. Part-time employment was flat. Year-over-year, the number of jobs was up 2.4%.
The Canadian staffing index, which reflects the volume of demand for temporary staffing in Canada, fell 3% in May on a year-over-year basis to a reading of 106. Both months had the same number of working days. Compared to April, the index was up 3% in May. The index is released by the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services.
Employment in Canada decreased by 16,000 jobs in May compared to April, according to the Canada National Employment Report released by ADP. "May experienced a sharp decline," said Ahu Yildirmaz, VP and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "Construction was the primary driver for the weak numbers in May, likely due to the downward trend in housing starts and a slowdown in sales activity. Education also experienced sizable losses, while smaller declines across a number of other industries cancelled out any employment gains." The ADP Research Institute produces the report in close collaboration with Moody’s Analytics Inc. Derived from actual ADP payroll data, the report measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The Economy – US
The US economy may be weaker than it looks, according to the UCLA Anderson Forecast released by the University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Management. Recent 3.1% growth in US real GDP may actually be a forebear of a recession, according to Professor Emeritus Edward Leamer at UCLA Anderson. Concerns in the data behind the growth number include weak residential investment and intellectual property as well as weak residential construction and consumer durables. UCLA Anderson senior economist David Shulman wrote the risk of recession becomes most problematic in the latter half of 2020.
A third estimate released of first-quarter growth in US real gross domestic product is unchanged from the last estimate of 3.1%, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. But there are concerns growth could be lower in the second quarter. The official new GDP estimate for Q1 is based on more complete data than was available during the first and second estimates. However, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow forecasting model estimates that growth will be only 1.9% in Q2.
The US economy will keep on expanding for now, but growth will decelerate next year, according to the National Association for Business Economics’ Outlook report. However, odds of a recession go up at the end of next year with protectionism a top concern. The report is based on a survey of 53 professional forecasters.
Hiring intentions in the US are the highest since 2006, according to ManpowerGroup Inc.’s (NYSE: MAN) Employment Outlook Survey for the third quarter. According to the results, 27% said they planned to increase payrolls, 3% planned to decrease payrolls, 69% planned no changes and 1% said they didn’t know. That made for a net employment outlook of 24%; when seasonally adjusted, the outlook goes to 21%. It’s that 21% seasonally adjusted net employment outlook that is the highest in 13 years.
The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to a reading of 52.1 in May. Reuters reported the reading was the lowest in 2.5 years. Respondents to the survey on which the index is based cited concerns with tariffs and a tight labour market. However, readings above 50 still generally indicate expansion.
Private-sector job growth in the US is moderating, posting its smallest gain since the economic expansion began, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Separately, The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine Index fell in May. However, the Institute for Supply Management reported activity picked up in the nonmanufacturing sector. The ADP National Employment Report found the US added 27,000 private-sector jobs in May from April, with most of the gains at large businesses and in the service sector.
The Institute for Supply Management reported its nonmanufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to a level of 56.9 in May from 55.5 in April. The index is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives. Readings above 50 indicate expansion, but the institute cautioned that activity is leveling off.
CompTIA reported the unemployment rate for technology occupations in the US fell to a 20-year low of 1.3% in May based on an analysis of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation report. However, the IT industry organization noted growth was modest compared to previous months. "The data confirms what employers have been saying for months and even years – the demand for tech talent has reached historic levels," said Tim Herbert, executive VP for research and market intelligence at CompTIA. IT occupations across the US rose by an estimated 133,000 jobs. The fastest growth was in "technology services, custom software development and computer systems design" which added 8,400 new hires.
While IT employment edged up 0.05% in May from the previous month to approximately 5.3 million jobs, growth remains meager, according to a report released by the TechServe Alliance, the national trade association of IT and engineering staffing and solutions firms. "While it goes without saying that any increase in IT employment is better than a decline, the month-over-month growth we have seen in 2019 to date is underwhelming," TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts said. "In absolute terms, the US labor market has only added 6,000 net IT jobs or 0.11% on a year-over-year basis — anemic to be sure." Meanwhile, engineering employment rose by 0.12 in May from the previous month to 2.6 million jobs. Year-over-year growth was 2.19%.
The US independent workforce — which includes consultants, freelancers, contractors, temporary and on-call workers — will rise to 47.2 million over the next five years, representing a 2.8% annual growth rate, according to MBO Partners’ new "2019 State of Independence in America report". All independent worker segments are forecast to increase in number, with "occasional independents" expected to grow the fastest. Independent workers generated $1.28 trillion of revenue for the US economy last year, according to the report. About 20% of full-time independents are "high-earning independents" who make more than $100,000. The number of high-earning full-time independents edged down in 2019 to 3.14 million from 3.3 million in 2018. The figure remains up sharply, however, from 1.95 million in 2011.
Workers’ confidence in the US reached its highest level in four years in the first quarter. Following a slight dip at the end of 2018, staffing provider Yoh and HRO Today magazine reported their quarterly Worker Confidence index rose to 110.7 the first quarter —
up 3.6 points from a reading of 107.1 in both the fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2018 to reach its highest level since the study’s inception.
Economic growth in the US will moderate toward 2% by the end of this year, The Conference Board forecasts in its US Leading Economic Index. May’s index reading was unchanged at 111.8 (2016 = 100). That follows increases of 0.1% in April, and 0.2% in March.
US private-sector output growth decelerated in June to the slowest pace in more than three years, according to the IHS Markit Flash US Purchasing Managers Index. Private sector output growth has lost momentum in each month since February. The labor market is also showing signs of weakening.
Of IT decision-makers polled by Robert Half Technology, 67% plan to hire full-time employees in the second half of the year, up four points from a similar survey for the first half. In addition, 95% said they plan to bring in project professionals. However, finding employees with the right skills remains tough; 89% said it’s difficult to find skilled IT professionals.
The Economy – Outside North America
The unemployment rate for the 36 countries that are members of the OECD fell by 0.1%, to 5.2%, in April 2019 when compared to the previous month. Across the OECD, 33.2 million people were unemployed.
The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate stood at 7.6% in April 2019, down from 8.4% last year and the lowest rate recorded since August 2008, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The EU28 unemployment rate stood at 6.4% in April 2019, down from 7.0% in April 2018, the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since the start of the EU monthly unemployment series in January 2000. Among the member states, the lowest unemployment rates in April 2019 were recorded in the Czech Republic (2.1%), Germany (3.2%) and the Netherlands (3.3%). The highest unemployment rates were observed in Greece (18.5% in February 2019), Spain (13.8%) and Italy (10.2%).
UK employers’ confidence in making hiring and investment decisions increased by 4% in the quarter ended May from the previous rolling quarter, returning to positive territory at net +1, according to the latest Jobs Outlook from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. At the same time, the REC’s data showed that employer confidence in the UK economy also recovered slightly from the previous rolling quarter, rising by 3% from -29 to -26.
Ireland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May 2019 stood at 4.4%, down from 5.9% in May 2018, according to the Central Statistics Office. This was the lowest level since February 2005. May’s unemployment rate was also down from 4.6% in April 2019.
The Swiss registered unemployment rate fell to 2.3% in May 2019 from 2.4% in the same period last year, according to figures from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
The unemployment rate in the Philippines fell to 5.1% in April 2019, down from 5.5% in April 2018, according to the latest data from the Philippines Statistics Agency.
Total employment in Singapore continued to grow in the first quarter of 2019 and at a faster pace than in Q1 2018, according to the latest Labour Market Report from the Ministry of Manpower. The report found that total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) grew by 10,700 in 1Q 2019.
Malaysia’s unemployment rate stood at 3.4% in April 2019, up slightly from 3.3% in April 2018, according to data from the Department of Statistics in Malaysia. The data showed there were 532,300 unemployed persons in April 2019, up from 510,000 in April 2018 and up from 521,300 in March 2019.
China’s employment remained stable in the first five months of the year, reports Xinhua, citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Analysts say the steady employment situation, an evidence of the country’s stable economic development despite external uncertainties, will in return underpin future growth. The country vowed to create over 11 million new urban jobs this year, with 5.97 million, or 54% of the annual target, having been added in the first five months of the year. Meanwhile, the country’s surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5% in May, below the government’s annual target of around 5.5% set for 2019.