More Good News Than I Can Take
Week in Review: Jan 29-Feb 2
Is it my imagination or is the economy getting stronger, and stronger, and stronger? Another month, another blowout jobs report. You can read what Zack had to say about that here. Between that, the Orioles finally being sold and trading for an ace, surging consumer confidence, and Meta finally offering a dividend after announcing fab earnings, it’s almost more good news than I can take.
Gas prices increased for a second consecutive week to an average of $3.21/gallon. That’s the highest price in 2024, but is lower than in all but one week of 2023. Like we said last week, gas prices have likely bottomed out for the time being and, as usual, are likely to rise throughout spring.
Diesel prices inched higher to $3.87 per gallon but remain near a 6-month low.
TSA Checkpoint Travel Numbers
The number of passengers screened by TSA has risen back to about 7% above 2023 levels. This is encouraging after the gap narrowed to about 3% in mid-January.
Consumer Confidence Index
This measure of consumer sentiment increased to its highest level since the end of 2021. Perceptions of inflation are softening (according to this index), the labor market keeps churning, and people are (finally) feeling better about the outlook. Of course, there’s still a lot of room for improvement here, with confidence still well below pre-pandemic levels.
Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)
The number of job openings inched up to 9 million in December. That’s about 2.2 million fewer than in December 2022 and about 2.0 million more than at the start of the pandemic. So, still a lot of job openings, but a lot fewer than there were.
Here’s the interesting part: workers are now quitting their jobs at a slower rate (2.2%) than they were before the pandemic. Some see this as a sign of a slowing labor market, the logic being that employees know there are fewer jobs out there and so are staying put.
While that’s possible, I think it’s a sign that a lot of people switched jobs over the past few years, those switches came with big pay increases and perks like working from home, and now people are staying at their current gig. They like it.