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Economists Suggest Increasing Likelihood of a 'Soft Landing' Based on Job Data

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Economists Suggest Increasing Likelihood of a 'Soft Landing' Based on Job Data

Economists are pointing to a new batch of labor data that indicates the U.S. economy is moving closer to a potential "soft landing." A soft landing would signify that the Federal Reserve has successfully tamed inflation without triggering a recession. The U.S. Labor Department's monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reported a decline of 617,000 job openings to 8.7 million in October, the lowest since March 2021.

The Fed's Delicate Balancing Act

The Federal Reserve has been aggressively raising borrowing costs since early 2022 to combat stubbornly high inflation. By increasing interest rates to their highest level since 2001, the central bank aims to cool down both the economy and the labor market. The challenge lies in bringing down inflation without causing an economic downturn, which would result in a hard landing and potentially trigger a recession.

The Ideal Scenario: A 'Goldilocks' Soft Landing

Economists at the Brookings Institution describe a soft landing as the "Goldilocks" scenario for central bankers. It represents an economy that is neither too hot (inflationary) nor too cold (in a recession). Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, believes that achieving a soft landing would be the best possible outcome, with the chances of it becoming increasingly likely.

Positive Labor Market Indicators

The latest labor data provides encouraging signs of a potential soft landing. The decline in job openings did not coincide with weakness in other areas of the labor market. The number of quits and hires remained steady at pre-pandemic levels, while layoffs remained low and 17% below their pre-pandemic baseline. Despite the significant monthly decline, job openings are still 25% higher than their February 2020 level.

Bringing the Labor Market Back into Balance

The ratio of job openings to unemployed workers fell to 1.3 in October, down from a pandemic-era high of 2.0 and approaching the pre-pandemic level of 1.2. Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, suggests that the current state of the labor market does not require further recalibration to achieve balance. He believes that it is already in a favorable position. In summary, economists see positive signs of a potential soft landing based on job data. The labor market has cooled without a significant increase in layoffs, and workers still enjoy relatively good job security. However, workers have lost some leverage compared to previous years, with fewer big pay increases and signing bonuses. While job opportunities remain abundant, they may be more challenging to secure, except in industries like healthcare facing acute labor shortages.

Hot Take: The 'Soft Landing' Scenario and Its Impact on New Business Formation

The U.S. economy's potential 'soft landing,' as indicated by recent labor data, could have significant implications for new business formation. A soft landing, where inflation is tamed without triggering a recession, would create a stable economic environment conducive to business growth.

Implications of the Fed's Balancing Act

The Federal Reserve's strategy of raising borrowing costs to combat inflation aims to cool both the economy and the labor market. This delicate balancing act could influence the financial landscape for new businesses. A successful soft landing would provide a stable economic environment, reducing the risk of a recession that could negatively impact new businesses.

'Goldilocks' Scenario: Ideal for New Businesses

The 'Goldilocks' scenario of a soft landing, where the economy is neither too hot nor too cold, is an ideal condition for new businesses. It provides a stable economic environment with controlled inflation, which is crucial for business planning and investment decisions.

Positive Labor Market Indicators: A Boon for New Businesses

The latest labor data shows positive signs towards a potential soft landing. The steady number of quits and hires, low layoffs, and a significant number of job openings indicate a robust labor market. This could be beneficial for new businesses, providing a larger talent pool and increased job security. In essence, the potential 'soft landing' of the U.S. economy, as indicated by recent labor data, could provide a favorable environment for new businesses. The stable economic conditions, controlled inflation, and robust labor market could offer a conducive platform for new businesses to thrive and grow.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/12/05/job-data-suggests-soft-landing-may-be-near-say-economists.html
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