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  • Writer's pictureDoug MacGray

Cooling Jobs, Empty Offices, Public Debt, and Lawn Seats

July 7, 2024

LABOR MARKET STEADILY MOVING AHEAD BY MOVING BACK TO 2021:  The U.S. economy added a net 206,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate increased to 4.1%, the first time this number has been above 4% since 2021. The average wage in the U.S. is 3.9% higher than one year ago, the lowest that figure has been since 2021. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the May jobs report of 272,000 has been revised down to 218,000, and the April number of 165,000 has been revised down to 108,000. (This makes you wonder if this month's number will be revised downward.) 63% of the new jobs in the past year have been in healthcare, government, and hospitality and leisure. All three of those categories suffered the most from the government-mandated shutdowns and were slower to recover than other employment. Overall job openings fell to the lowest they have been since 2021.

INVESTORS LIKED THE JOBS REPORT: The S&P 500 closed out another week at a record high. Gains continued Friday in the holiday-shortened week after the release of June's jobs report (see above). It did not hurt that Tesla stock rose 27% for the week (after announcing surprisingly strong second-quarter deliveries), wiping out what had been a dismal year-to-date.

LONGER-TERM PERFORMANCE:  Below are the annualized three-year and five-year numbers for these same indices.  

MEANWHILE TO THE NORTH:  Canada's unemployment rate for June came in at 6.3%.

OFFICE SPACE:  One sector that has not recovered from the 2020 shutdowns is commercial office space. According to Moody's Analytics, the office sector in the U.S. hit a vacancy rate of 20.1% in the second quarter of this year, the first time that figure has been above 20% ever. The actual rents being paid by tenants decreased by 0.1% in the second quarter of this year as tenants are seeking concessions. Effective rents have been going down or flat for four straight quarters.

TRUST US!:  In 1973, when the Gallup pollsters asked Americans "how much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media," 69% answered either a "great deal" or a "fair amount." That percentage has now plummeted to 32%. "None at all" has risen from 8% to 39%. "Not very much" comes in at 29%. I hope you trust MacGray Matter!

PRETTY GOOD INVESTMENT:  In 2002, Wyc Grousebeck led a group of investors who purchased the Boston Celtics professional basketball franchise for $360 million. After winning the NBA championship, Mr. Grousebeck announced that the team is for sale, and it is likely to attract a purchase price of above $4 billion.

MY KIND OF RETIREMENT!:  James Taylor is 76. My wife, brother and sister-in-law went to see him at Tanglewood in Massachusetts this week. We brought coolers, chairs and a blanket and enjoyed sitting on the lawn for a perfect evening. James has lost a little speed on his fastball, but he still sings, plays and entertains at a very high level. He is employing lots of people, entertaining happy customers, and serving his community well by filling hotels and restaurants in Lenox, Massachusetts, increasing the tax revenue, and giving a portion of his proceeds back to the Tanglewood venue to promote the arts. I'm grateful he did not retire at 65.

I'm listening to James Taylor as I write this week.

Have a great week!

Our purpose is to honor God by helping our clients see the objective, find the path, and navigate past the obstacles to a more prosperous future.

Douglas R. MacGray, J.D., C.F.P. ®


Stonecrop Wealth Advisors, LLC

Direct | Cell | Fax

(610) 628 4545

"Won't you look down upon me, Jesus. You've got to help me make a stand. You've just got to see me through another day. My body's aching and my time is at hand, and I won't make it any other way." Fire and Rain by James Taylor

"And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right."  I Thessalonians 3:13


(c) 2024 A.D., Stonecrop Wealth Advisors, LLC, All Rights Reserved

*S&P 500: This is a measure of the performance of the 500 largest companies in the United States, and it a common index to track the performance of U.S. equity markets, especially the large cap markets.

*MSCI All Country World Index X US: This is a broad measure of the performance of worldwide equity markets excluding the United States.

*Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate: This is a measure of the U.S. bond markets.

Investment advisory services offered through Stonecrop Wealth Advisors, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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