After a two-week delay due to the government shutdown, the September 2013 labor report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was deemed disappointing by economists. While surveys from Bloomberg News before the release predicted 180,000 new positions being added to the United States labor force, only 148,000 non-farm positions were added.
“The employment report released this morning showed that the economic recovery continued its moderate pace during September,” BostonCollege associate economics professor Robert Murphy told ABC News. “Of course, the latest report is based on data from before the government shutdown and debt-crisis brinkmanship, and so to gauge any possible fallout from those events we must await the October numbers.”
In somewhat brighter news, the unemployment rate for the country was expected to be unchanged during the month at 7.3 percent, but September’s numbers saw the month’s rate be pushed down decline by .1 percent for a new total of 7.2 percent.
While the unemployment rate has declined by nearly half a point since June, the number of unemployed persons remains at 11.3 million nationwide. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, this drop in the unemployment rate is not due to a decline in the labor force participation rate. The unemployment rate dipped because the number of people employed jumped by 133,000, while the number of people who said they were unemployed fell by 61,000. In addition, the U-6 section of the report, which includes marginally attached workers – the underemployed and those looking for jobs – also saw a drop, though it has grown by 300,000 since July.
Bright spots for the report were found in construction, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, all of which added jobs. Employment in construction saw growth of 20,000 jobs, while wholesale trade rose by 16,000 in the month-long period. Transportation and warehousing saw growth of another 23,000 jobs with 18,000 of those positions being found in transit and ground passenger transportation.
Professional and business services also experienced growth during the month-long period, trending up by 32,000 – and that’s less than the monthly average in the past year, which rose as high as 52,000. Temporary help services also saw the addition of 20,000 jobs last month.
Retail trade also experienced growth in its labor force, with the building material/garden supply stores and automobile dealer subsectors in particular experiencing growth of 5,000 and 4,000 jobs, respectively. Healthcare saw another 7,000 positions added.
Industries experiencing declines included financial activities, which fell by 8,000 positions, while food services lost 7,000 positions in that same time. Major sectors that experienced next to no change included mining and logging, manufacturing, information and government.
Average workweeks for all employees in the country remained constant at 34.5 hours, while average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents during the month, contributing further to the year’s increase of 2.1 percent.
In addition, reports from previous months were changed to the tune of 9,000 more jobs than initially estimated. While employment in July was marked down from 104,000 to 89,000 positions, August saw its numbers increased by 24,000, reaching a new figure of 193,000 for the month.
Because of the government shutdown, the jobs report for October will be watched intensely when it’s released on November 8. Analysts will want to see if the two-week period had a significant effect on overall employment levels.
The New York Times reports that the weaker aspects of the report will likely push back the date when the federal government begins to scale back its major asset purchases because of the uncertain economy. Initially estimated to begin in September, new predictions have moved beyond the target date of December 2013 and now sit in the period of March 2014, according to Barclays economists.
Unemployment in the United States remained fairly stable in May, with employers adding a better-than-predicted 175,000 jobs last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Despite employment rising across a number of industries, including retail and professionals services, the jobless rate for May now stands at 7.6 percent – up from 7.5 percent in April. The addition of jobs surpassed analysts’ expectations by approximately 10,000. Job gains for both March and April were revised downward by an overall total of 12,000, with March’s increase adjusted to 142,000 from 138,000 and April’s to 149,000 from 165,000. Following a report by payroll processor ADP that businesses were expected to add only 135,000 jobs in May, some economists had lowered their estimates prior to the jobs report by the BLS.
The report was considered to be a good indicator for the overall economy in light of the government sequester, as well as the new healthcare law’s mandate for businesses kicking in and the 30-year mortgage rate rising above 4 percent for the first time in a year during the last week of May.
Dean Maki, chief economist at Barclays, told CNBC that May’s jobs report does little to clarify the Fed’s next policy move even though Chairman Ben Bernanke had said he would reduce bond purchases in the next few months if employment levels stayed strong.
“I think this will be seen as a report that’s not convincing either way in terms of tapering,” said Maki. “We think not until March of 2014. Our view is that the labor market and GDP will be slow enough that the Fed decides it’s not worth tapering at this point … and it’s because we do not expect the bounce back to 3 percent (GDP growth) that they are expecting.”
Across industries, professional and business services added 57,000 positions in May while many employers added temporary workers. The leisure and hospitality sector gained 38,000 jobs last month with employment in the food services and drinking segment continuing to expand. The retail trade sector increased by 28,000, which is slightly above the monthly industry average of 20,000 jobs over the past year. Within the healthcare sector, employment also continued to trend up to an overall 11,000 with home health services leading the way at 7,000 positions, followed by outpatient care at 4,000. However, the growth was offset by some losses as hospitals cut 6,000 positions last month. Other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and mining, construction and manufacturing, all experienced little or no change. Federal payrolls shrank by 14,000.
Workers with higher education levels also continued to fare better than those with a high school diploma or less, with the unemployment rate among these individuals at 6.8 percent, well below the national average.
The number of people employed part-time, or involuntary part-time workers, remained unchanged in May at 7.9 million, while the number of people who were marginally attached to the workforce, or those who had stopped looking for a job in the four weeks prior to the report, stood at 2.2 million, down from 2.4 million in May 2012. This subgroup was not counted as unemployed. Among the marginally attached, 780,000 were counted as discouraged workers who suspended their job search because they believed there was no work available for them. Hourly wages for those in private non-farm jobs were up 1 cent to $23.89. Wages for private sector production and non-supervisory employees also rose a penny to $20.08.
– Agustino Fontececchia, Forbes 11/01/2012
The $2.5 trillion chemicals industry provides a good vantage point from which to observe the state of the global economy, as many of its products stand at the beginning of the supply chain. From consumers to construction, the chemicals industry is set to boom in the U.S. given the explosion of shale plays and the cheap price of natural gas compared to the rest of the world, according to Anton Ticktin, a partner at chemical industry focused M&A advisory investment bank Valence.
“Chemicals go into everything, they are the part of the first step into the creation of so many different products,” explained Ticktin, “the gives you insight into the state of so many industries and sectors” such as the consumer, through plastic bag volumes for example, and construction, through sales of paints and coatings.
The U.S. is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the chemicals market with the emergence of shale gas. Years ago, the U.S. appeared as a market in decline, given it didn’t have comparative advantages in terms of costs or demand, which had shifted to China and Asia. “The U.S. has about 20 to 30 years to benefit from this,” said Ticktin.
And investors can get a cut of the action. Years ago, major chemical companies like Du Pont and Dow Chemical began to move their operations overseas. But today, companies with access to feed stocks that are associated with the production of natural gas, such as propane and ethane, will see a boost in their performance. Major oil and gas companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell are well positioned to benefit.
Companies in the coatings and paints business will also do well, according to Ticktin. Sherwin-Williams andPPG, for example, are trading near their 52-week highs, while Du Pont and Dow Chemical are on their way back.
Ticktin notes that their performance is related to the comeback in the U.S. construction sector. Spending, and confidence, is rising, he says, and this has fed the boom in all related industries (homebuilders, for example, are also substantially outperforming the general market).
Indeed, if there is a silver lining in the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, it will be the strength in construction, Ticktin believes. Water treatment companies, which use a variety of chemicals, also have much to gain.
At the same time, Valence is seeing how the global slowdown spread. While the U.S. is surging, Europe is looking “very flat, which is a reflection of the underlying weakness of their economies.” Also troubling is the marked slowdown in Asia. “Asia is flat-lining,” explained Ticktin, “we are seeing sales, volumes, and margins all coming down;” while Asia remains the global powerhouse, growing at a solid rate, it is slowing down.
The bottom line is that through the lens that is the chemicals industry, Ticktin is seeing the U.S. recovery strengthening vis-à-vis the rest of the world. WhileGDPis still lagging, the rise in volume and sales seen in the chemical industry should be a good omen for the broader economy.
U.S. manufacturing grows in September for first time since May
October, 1st – (Reuters) -U.S.manufacturing unexpectedly expanded in September for the first time since May as new orders and employment picked up, but the pace of growth showed the economy was still stuck in a slow recovery.
The Institute for Supply Management said on Monday its index of national factory activity rose to 51.5 from 49.6 in August.
“We’re not quite at the point where things are good, but this indicates strongly that things are not so bad,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital inNew York.
It was the first time since May that the index has been above the 50 threshold that indicates expansion in the sector.
The forward-looking new orders gauge also rose to its highest level since May at 52.3 from 47.1, while employment gained to 54.7 from 51.6.
The data boostedU.S.stocks, while the dollar fell from a three-week high and Treasuries prices slipped.
The improvement in employment boded well ahead of the larger jobs report on Friday, which is expected to show the pace of hiring picked up slightly last month.
Still, the overall rate of growth in manufacturing was not yet off to the races and some components remained in contraction territory. Exports continued to shrink, though the rate of contraction was not as severe with the index rising to 48.5 from 47. Similarly, production rose to 49.5 from 47.2.
While economic growth may accelerate a bit, “a major improvement is not on the cards,” wrote Paul Dales, seniorU.S.economist at Capital Economics.
TheU.S.economy grew at a 1.3 percent rate in the second quarter and most analysts expect growth will remain sluggish, though the economy should escape another contraction.
Dales said the improvement in factory activity was consistent with annualized gross domestic product growth of 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent.
To help bolster the economy, the Federal Reserve last month launched a third bond-buying program. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday the central bank’s actions are necessary to support a flagging recovery.
The push-and-pull nature of the recovery was also seen in data that showed construction spending in August fell by the most in a year.
A separate manufacturing survey from Markit showed the sector closed out its worst quarter in three years as foreign demand forU.S.goods fell sharply.
After helping support the U.S.economic recovery, manufacturing has faltered in recent months, stung by weaker growth in China and the uncertainty surrounding the euro zone debt crisis.
Euro zone factories suffered their worst quarter since early 2009, suggesting the region may struggle to avoid recession. Factory activity inChinaalso contracted, suggesting the world’s No. 2 economy lost momentum for a seventh consecutive quarter.
Big manufacturers General Electric Co and United Technologies Corp last week told investors they expected their earnings to grow in 2013 despite the uncertainties domestically and abroad.
GE last week won $1.2 billion in orders for gas turbines from customers in the United States, Japan andSaudi Arabia, while Boeing Co said All Nippon Airways ordered 11 Dreamliner jets worth about $2.7 billion at current list prices.
Not all the news from top manufacturers has been so bright. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc last week lowered its long-term 2015 growth target, citing an “anemic” world economy.
The package ofU.S.tax hikes and spending cuts set to come into effect at the start of next year, dubbed the “fiscal cliff”, has also clouded the outlook and left some companies in wait-and-see mode.
“Why wouldn’t you just wait a few months and see what happens?” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James inSt. Petersburg,Florida
“It’s not like everything stops because everybody’s worried about the fiscal cliff, but you get some percentage of activity which is going to be a little bit more paralyzed.”
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica inNew Yorkand Scott Malone inBoston; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” Dow Jones reported earlier this week that the social networking giant was preparing to aggregate job postings from third parties. The effort involves at least three companies that already use Facebook as a professional network hub, including BranchOut, Work4 Lab and Jobvite, according to the report.
Reps from Facebook could not be reached for comment.
Though leveraging Facebook’s 900 million-plus user base might worry any competitor in the estimated $4.3 billion online job-recruitment category, based on the report, LinkedIn can probably relax. “It doesn’t feel like a big effort that they’ve worked on for a long time,” said one source quoted in the report. “It feels lightweight.” The goal of the site is less to compete in a new market than to drive more engagement, the source told Dow Jones. It’s also unclear how the job postings would circulate and if they’d appear in Facebook’s News Feed or elsewhere on the site. However, a serious entry by Facebook into the market could disrupt LinkedIn’s business, especially since many recruiters already prefer Facebook to LinkedIn.
The report comes after Facebook partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor in October for a “Social Jobs” portal that makes easily accessible educational content and tools from its partners at the Department of Labor, National Association of Colleges and Employers, DirectEmployers Association, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. It plans to promote this page in the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates and Puerto Rico. Facebook has also promised to conduct surveys about how job hunters, recruiters and college career departments use social media.
Chemical Companies Partner Up to Produce Sustainable Feedstocks
By Sustainable Plant Staff
July 27, 2012 05:42:04 pm
In the latest round of chemical company cooperation to commercialize alternatives to fossil fuel-based products and processes, Evonik and BioAmber have joined forces to develop catalysts for sustainable chemicals made from bio-based succinic acid, while Versalis is working with Genomatica and Novamont for bio-based butadiene.
Sustainable Succinic Acid
Evonik Industries’ catalysts business line has recently agreed with U.S.-based BioAmber Inc. on a long term cooperation for the development and manufacturing of catalysts for making BDO (1,4-butanediol), THF (tetrahydrofurane) and GBL (gamma–butyrolactone) from bio-based succinic acid. BDO, THF and GBL are large volume industrial chemicals used in a wide range of applications including polymers, paints, adhesives and solvents. The global market for these products currently made from petrochemicals is $4 billion.
BioAmber is a leading manufacturer of bio-succinic acid from renewable feedstock. Bio-succinic acid is a platform chemical that can be used to make a number of products currently made from petrochemicals. The company licensed BDO hydrogenation catalyst technology from DuPont in 2010, which has been further developed with partners Evonik and the Center for Applied Catalysis at Seton Hall University to improve the technology. In parallel, BioAmber and Evonik have started to develop a new generation of BDO catalysts.
BioAmber operates a dedicated production plant for bio-succinic acid in Pomacle, France with a 350,000 liter commercial scale fermenter. The company, together with Mitsui & Co., has broken ground in Sarnia, Canada on a 17,000 metric ton bio-succinic acid plant that will be operational in late 2013, with plans to expand capacity to 34,000 metric tons of succinic acid, and a 23,000 metric tons BDO plant in late 2014.
BioAmber has plans to build additional succinic acid and BDO plants with Mitsui & Co. “Through our collaboration with Evonik, we have secured the expertise and capabilities we need to rapidly bring competitive BDO and THF technology to market,” said Jean-Francois Huc, BioAmber CEO.
Evonik offers an extensive range of catalysts, as well as integrated services for its customers. “Chemicals from renewable feedstock for our daily life products become increasingly important as replacements for crude oil-based products,” explains Dr. Wilfried Eul, senior vice president and head of Evonik’s catalysts business line. “The manufacturing of renewable chemicals very often entails biotechnological steps and catalytic conversion steps. Catalysts are not off-the-rack products; they need to be specially tailored to every individual synthesis reaction and process condition. Evonik is proud to innovate together with BioAmber as a leading company in the bio-based succinic acid field, supporting our growth strategy based on resource efficiency.”
Trio to Target First Commercial Plants for Bio-Based Butadiene
Versalis, Eni’s chemicals subsidiary leader in the production of elastomers, together with Genomatica (a leading developer of process technology for renewable chemicals), and Novamont (a leader in biodegradable plastics and pioneer in third-generation integrated biorefineries) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a strategic partnership to enable production of butadiene from renewable feedstocks.
The partnership, on the basis of which a joint venture will be established, will develop a comprehensive process for production of polymer-grade butadiene from biomass. Versalis will hold a majority interest in the joint venture holding company and aims to be the first to build commercial plants using the process technology upon project success.
The partnership will leverage Genomatica’s proprietary technologies and intellectual property for producing butadiene, Versalis’ expertise in catalysis process development, process engineering scale-up and market applications of butadiene derivatives, as well as Novamont’s experience in renewable feedstocks.
Under this agreement, Versalis will use Genomatica’s process technology for economically competitive and sustainable production of an important supply-constrained chemical. The process technology aspect of the agreement is intended to be made available for future licensing in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Butadiene is a key intermediate for Versalis’ elastomers business. The raw material required to produce it, extracted from C4 (a mixture of molecules containing four carbon atoms) and produced by cracking plants, is increasingly subject to availability problems.
Decreasing supplies and a lack of dedicated butadiene production facilities have resulted in significant long-term pressure on the price and volatility of the chemical, which in turn increases the price of butadiene-based products, including tires.
Concerns of scarcity in the butadiene market are compounded by growth forecasts within the BRIC countries where demand for automotive products made from butadiene, such as tires, is expected to increase.
In this context, butadiene supplies from biomass become strategic to Versalis, because in times of C4 stream scarcity it can be freed from naphtha cracking processes. So the partnership represents a valuable opportunity to boost the supply of butadiene with the support of its know-how and the industrial system, and to expand its bio-based portfolio.