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Meet the New Boss, the Same as the Old Boss

Meet the New Boss, the Same as the Old Boss

December 18, 2023

"Won't Get Fooled Again" is the eight-and-a-half-minute closing anthem on The Who's 1971 album Who's Next. In the US, the edited and shortened single entered Billboard on July 17th, reaching No. 15. The song has achieved critical praise, appearing as one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. As the song nears its climactic ending, lead singer Roger Daltrey belts out what is known as the most iconic scream in rock'n'roll. For those of you who need a reminder or want to hear it one more time a YouTube link is included below.

The Scream ("Won't Get Fooled Again" - The Who)

(For best effects turn up the sound really loud).

                                                                                                                                            Source: Wikipedia                                    Source: Reddit

According to Rock-Songs.com, Pete Townshend wrote this about a revolution. In the first verse, there is an uprising. In the middle, they overthrow those in power, but in the end, the new regime becomes just like the old one ("Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"). Townshend felt revolution was pointless because whoever takes over is destined to become corrupt, just as those previously in power.

In looking at today's employment picture, we see two statistics that look like they are reverting toward their pre-COVID trends. The first is known as the “Quits Rate”. This tells us what percentage of workers were willing to quit their jobs. It is seen as a measure of confidence in the economy as people will typically only quit a job if they are confident they can get another.

As you can see in our first chart below the quits rate started rising shortly after the Great Recession and Financial Crisis of ‘08-‘09. This may seem like an unusual time for people to be willing to leave their jobs. This also coincides with the first baby boomers turning age 65 and starting to retire from the workforce. It rose steadily until the pandemic hit in early 2020. As the economy reopened and the number of available jobs was more than double the number of workers available, employees became much more confident about their job prospects and the ability to not only find another job but one with higher wages.

However, as inflation started to rise, and pandemic-boosted savings started to deplete, workers were much more hesitant to leave their jobs. This has resulted in the quits rate reverting to the same level it was before the pandemic.

Meet the New Boss, the Same as the Old Boss

The second trend we are watching revolves around the overall unemployment rate. The chart below shows the unemployment levels over the last six-year period the dotted red line represents the average unemployment rate from 2017-19. As you can see with the release of the October unemployment numbers, we are right back to the same levels we averaged in the three years before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meet the New Boss, the Same as the Old Boss

It is important to note that the unemployment rate has now risen from 3.4% to 3.9%. Economists such as Liz Ann Sonders at Charles Schwab and Joseph Brusuelas of RSM US LLP have noted that we have never seen the unemployment rate rise by .5% or more without being followed by a recession. This is a data point that bears watching as most economists also believe that the economy will begin slowing from its rapid GDP growth rate in the third quarter of this year. This could put further pressure on the jobs market.

It has taken a while, but these are two employment data points that seem to be finally reverting toward their pre-pandemic trend lines. The employment market is extraordinarily important to watch as full employment is one of the two mandates of the Federal Reserve Bank. Unfortunately, unemployment is a lagging economic indicator. This means that the Fed is trying to guide the economy ahead of them while looking at economic statistics that are firmly in the rearview mirror.

It seems that inflation as well as fears of a slowing economy have many workers finding out that they have Met the New Boss, and they are the Same as the Old Boss. Hopefully, The Fed "Won't Get Fooled Again" as they are trying to steer us and the economy toward a soft economic landing. The CFPs of Impel Wealth Management will be watching, and we will keep you informed as we continue “Moving Life Forward”.

© 2023 Jesse Hurst

The views stated are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera and should not be construed directly or indirectly as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change without notice. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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