Monday, March 5, 2012

5/3/2012: Services & Manufacturing Employment - PMI data for February

In previous posts I have covered new data on Manufacturing PMI and Services PMI. In this post, I will look closer at Employment sub-indices by these two broad sectors.

As before, all original data is courtesy of NCB, with analysis provided by myself. Some of the indices reported are derived by me on the basis of proprietary models and are labeled/identified as such.

Chart above shows core PMIs for Services and Manufacturing, highlighting the following changes:

  • Manufacturing PMI moved from 48.3 in January to 49.7 in February, remaining below 50 line, signaling weaker contraction mom. 12mo MA is now at 50.3 and Q1 2012 average running is 49.0 against Q4 2011 average of 49.1.
  • Services PMI has improved from contractionary 48.3 in January to expansionary 53.3 in February, with 12mo MA at 51.0 below february reading. Q1 2012 running average is 50.8 and it is almost identical to 50.9 average for Q4 2011.
  • Volatility of Manufacturing PMI had risen from the STDEV of 4.48 in 2000-present sample to 5.62 for 2008-present sub-sample (crisis period), while volatility of Services PMI had fallen from 7.75 in 2000-present to 6.60 in 2008-present.

The chart below summarizes Employment sub-indices for Services and Manufacturing PMIs:

  • Employment index in Manufacturing has deteriorated from 49.5 (contractionary) in January to 49.3 in February, with 12mo MA now at 49.9, Q1 2012 running average of 49.4 and Q4 2011 average of 48.6.
  • Employment index in Manufacturing has become more volatile during the crisis, with STDEV rising from 4.41 for the sample of 2000-present to 5.51 for the crisis-period sample.
  • Employment index in Services has improved from contractionary 44.5 in January to still contractionary 47.9 in February, with 12mo MA at 47.7 and Q1 2012 running average of 46.2 against Q4 2011 average of 47.3.
  • Employment in Services is less volatile since the crisis on-set, with STDEV of index running at 6.71 for the sample of 2000-present against crisis period STDEV of 5.64.
  • Overall, Employment index in Services is virtually as volatile during the crisis period as the Employment index in Manufacturing. However, before the crisis onset, and historically overall, employment was much less volatile in Manufacturing than in Services. This suggests, given strong growth of our exports in Manufacturing compared to Services, that most of our current exports boom is explained not by real economic activity, but by transfer pricing - a conjecture supported by my analysis of the trade data here. Note, that this is also consistent with lower overall employment and lack of jobs creation despite the relatively strong singlas coming from the PMIs in both sectors.

Charts below clearly show that our 'exports-led' recovery is not creating jobs and is instead associated with overall net jobs destruction continuing to rage across the economy.

So what is going on? we can only speculate, but in my view, 

Reasons why our Services PMI growth is not translating into jobs creation are: 
(1) much of growth is due to transfer pricing via IFSC & likes, 
(2) Maj of services exports are not labour intensive (hours worked) but skills intensive (high-end skills generating high value added), 
(3) Domestic services continue to shrink (retail etc), 
(4) Profit margins are very severely strained - so profitability has ben shrinking since end of 2007 every month, implying cuts in employment to raise productivity, 
(5) Many of jobs in services exports are NOT employing domestic workers as lack of skills drives these jobs into international markets. And these are the growth areas, while domestic employment sectors are shrinking. 

Incidentally, this is not new. 

Since the beginning of data series, in Manufacturing, we had 33 months characterized by rising unemployment and rising exports (exports-led jobless recovery) against 43 months of jobs-creating exports-led growth. So there is a 43.4% chance that any recovery in Irish manufacturing will be jobless. This chance is much higher during the current crisis, with 20 monthly episodes of jobless recovery against just 8 jobs-creating recovery episodes.

Similarly, in Services, since the beginning of the data history, we had 31 episodes of jobless recoveries against 32 episodes of jobs-creating exports growth. So probability of 49.2% is associated with seeing jobless recovery if a recovery is exports-driven. Since the beginning of this crisis, there were 26 jobless exports-growth episodes against only 1 month when jobs growth coincided with exports growth.

The above, of course, show exactly how fallacious it is to anticipate exports growth to translate into jobs recovery.

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