Thousand-Word Equivalents

Job Openings
Working Past 65
COVID Retirement Boom
Investing Framework
Paying More Is Happening Less
Built to Rent
Chinese Cars
Consumption Growth
WFH Plateau
Mortgage Stimulus
Quick Take on the Employment Data
Austin, NYC, and a Reading Recommendation

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this will be the “longest” letter I’ve sent you in a while, as there are quite a few pictures. It may also be the most wide-ranging.

Every Wednesday my Over My Shoulder members get a PDF file with some of the week’s most interesting charts, all selected by me and co-editor Patrick Watson. We call it Clips That Matter. We look for things that truly do matter, and often they’re not obvious until you look at them graphically. They come from a variety of sources we encounter in our voracious reading and research.

Today I’m going to share just a few of the clips we sent members over the last month. Each has a chart plus a few quick comments. These are exactly what we said at the time, except where I’ve added new information in [brackets].

Since this was jobs week, we’ll start with some employment-related charts and then move on to housing, China, and other topics.

Job Openings

We’ve looked before at the US Labor Department’s job openings data, i.e., the number of positions employers would fill immediately if they had a qualified candidate. The numbers are so large as to almost defy belief. And indeed, they may be overstated… or maybe not.

This chart shows total job openings by month back to 2001. Notice the long uptrend that began around 2010, just as the Baby Boom generation began reaching retirement age. It continued until the 2020 COVID recession, then headed higher again.

Source: BLS

Drawing a trendline through the 2010‒2020 period, we see that simply continuing that growth rate would have put today’s job openings only about 2 million below the official data. Early retirements plus COVID deaths and disabilities would easily fill that gap.

The pandemic seems to have intensified a labor shortage that was already developing—and more important, it’s not going away.

[Jumping in with some new data: Job openings are indeed starting to fall ever so slowly, as industries start to adjust to the new macroeconomic monetary environment—i.e., higher rates. I was talking with Danielle DiMartino last night about the softening labor market. And sure enough, this morning her Daily Feather shows 100% of job posting categories are falling, 100% of industries are showing job cuts, and initial unemployment claims are beginning to rise (ever so slowly). We are seeing the kind of data associated with the beginning of recession, in addition to the extended inverted yield curve.]