U.S. Gains 175K Jobs in May; Household Net Worth, ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Up

The economy created 175,000 jobs in May, compared with a rise of 149,000 in April, which was surprisingly on the upside. Household net worth increased during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the previous quarter. The Institute for Supply Management reported that its Non-Manufacturing Index came in at 53.7 percent in May, 0.6 percentage points higher than in April.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the U.S. economy created 175,000 jobs in May, compared with a rise of 149,000 in April, which was a surprise on the upside. Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, as well as retail trade. Over the last 12 months, employment growth averaged 172,000 per month.

For the week ending June 1, initial unemployment claims were 346,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week. The less excitable four-week moving average was 352,500, an increase of 4,500 from the week before.

The official unemployment rate, which is measured by a different BLS survey (the establishment survey vs. the household survey), came in at 7.6 percent in May, an uptick of 0.1 percent compared with April. The total number of unemployed persons – those out of work but still looking for work – was essentially unchanged at 11.8 million. 

Household Net Worth Up 

According to the Federal Reserve on Thursday, U.S. household net worth increased during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the previous quarter. Household net worth stood at $70.3 trillion in Q1 2013, a new record in nominal terms. The previous net worth peak was $67.4 trillion in the third quarter of 2007, and then net worth fell to $51.4 trillion in the first quarter of 2009. Much of the recovery has been driven by the run-up in stock prices. 

The Fed also estimated that household real estate net worth – how much equity people have in their housing — increased to $18.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2013, but that isn’t a record, since home prices haven’t recovered as much as stocks. The value of household real estate is $4.2 trillion below the most recent peak, which was the height of the bubble in early 2006. 

In the first quarter of 2013, residential property owners held an average of 49.2 percent equity in their holdings, according to the Fed. That’s up from the fourth quarter of 2012, and the highest percentage since the fourth quarter of 2007. But the fact that roughly a third of householders have no mortgage debt means that those who do hold mortgages generally have less than 49.2 percent equity, many with negative equity. 

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Up 

The Institute for Supply Management reported on Thursday that its Non-Manufacturing Index came in at 53.7 percent in May, 0.6 percentage points higher than in April. That indicates continued growth at a slightly faster rate in the non-manufacturing sector. The New Orders Index increased by 1.5 percentage points to 56 percent, and the Employment Index decreased 1.9 percentage points to 50.1 percent, also pointing to growth in that sector. 

Wall Street gained some ground on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 80.03 points, or 0.53 percent. The S&P 500 advanced 0.85 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.66 percent.