The Report That Could Make the Market Flip

  • What traders can expect from a high unemployment rate…
  • Is low unemployment good or bad for the stock market?
  • The 3 types of unemployment categories…


Dear Penny Stock Millionaire,

We already took a look at the overall relationship between unemployment and the stock market. The two directly impact each other in some rather surprising ways.

Today we’ll discuss the unemployment rate fluctuations and what they mean for you as a trader.

For example, it might seem like low employment rates are a blessing for the stock market. People have jobs and are spending more, so that’s a good thing, right? Sorry, but like so many things in life, it’s not always that simple.


Effects of Low Unemployment Rates

The thing is, the labor market can reach a point when the jobs added aren’t contributing enough to cover the cost of the labor. This creates an extremely inefficient system. That’s referred to as the slack in the labor market or an output gap. The economy doesn’t like slack.

The economy goes up and down, and so does this slack or output gap. If it’s negative, this can be an indication that the labor market isn’t being fully utilized.

However, if it’s positive, this could mean that the economy isn’t efficient.

Inflation can also play a role in low unemployment rates.

While inflation is natural, sometimes wage inflation exceeds natural inflation, and this isn’t such a great thing. It occurs when the demand for labor is increased because there are fewer workers available and they need to attract workers.

This means that companies are making less profit per worker. This can affect the bottom line for companies and can affect their stocks’ profitability and desirability.


What Traders Can Expect from a Low Unemployment Rate

According to Pension Partners, “A positive correlation between the level of unemployment and forward stock market returns. In general, the lower the unemployment rate, the lower the forward stock market returns and vice versa. In the current quintile (2.5% to 4.4% unemployment), the average S&P 500 return over the following year is 5.6% versus an average of 12.7% in all periods. The best returns historically have come after periods of high unemployment.”

Low unemployment isn’t necessarily a great thing for the stock market. The Federal Reserve has to adjust policy to make jobs, and this can create social and economic problems.

As wages are inflated, companies make less profits, and this affects their worth in the stock market.

While unemployment definitely isn’t great for the people who are unemployed, it’s important for the maintained balance of the economy.


Effects of High Unemployment Rates

If low unemployment is less than ideal, does that mean that high unemployment is better? No.

High unemployment obviously isn’t desirable, particularly for those without jobs.  

High unemployment also has larger-reaching effects. It means more assistance will be required from state and federal governments to provide unemployment benefits and medical and food assistance.

It also means that the government can’t collect as much in taxes because there isn’t as much income coming into households. This means that the government has to cut back in various ways or to borrow money, neither of which is desirable.


What Traders Can Expect from a High Unemployment Rate

When you think about it on a national level, there are plenty of direct effects for traders when the nation experiences a high unemployment rate.

Since people won’t buy as much during times of high unemployment, the GDP will be reduced. This means that the nation isn’t going to be as efficient or effective in its resource allocation.

Additionally, companies aren’t making more profits by virtue of having fewer employees. They are often charged higher taxes to help bolster the unemployment benefits.

This means that the companies have less money to hire employees.

When put in combination with the lesser demand for products, this is bad news for companies and the stocks they offer. This can have long-reaching effects, too, like reduced consumer trust over time.

The Importance of Fundamental Analysis in Unemployment Scenarios

Your methods for conducting trades should never be set in stone.

Even if you’ve come up with a few setups that work reliably, something like a change in the economy, which could be caused by a change in the unemployment rate, could change everything.

As a trader, you can never become complacent in your methods to the point where you’re no longer doing research. You should consider a variety of factors and always meet the market where it is right now, rather than where it once was or where it could be going.

Fundamental analysis is an important tool for traders, and during times of higher or lower unemployment, you should absolutely consider the data in your research.


What Are the Different Unemployment Categories?


Within the term unemployment, there are different categories. Here are some key ones:

  1. Cyclical Unemployment



This is unemployment that’s considered a direct result of the business cycle.

For example, during a recession, there’s a drastically reduced demand for workers, and wages aren’t quick to come to the point where the amount of labor and the supply and demand are back in harmony.

2.  Structural Unemployment

This is unemployment that refers to an imbalance of the jobs available and the skill set of the workers available.

A good example might be when there’s a technological change that renders jobs within a certain industry obsolete. For instance, think of the motor industry.

In situations like this, workers are typically out of work for longer periods and may have to do some training to become relevant. This can be a pretty big problem in the economy.

3. Frictional Unemployment

This is unemployment that results based on an imbalance of qualified workers and jobs available.

For example, consider college grads looking for work, but struggling because all of the available jobs demand experience that they don’t have.

This scenario is hard to avoid. However, this is generally seen as a normal relationship between jobs available and job seekers that evens out over time.


Unemployment Rate Calculation

How is the unemployment rate calculated?

Mainly through a duo of surveys that are conducted through the Census Bureau and the BLS.


What Workforce Surveys Are Used to Calculate Unemployment?


How does the government figure out exactly how many people are working?

They can’t poll every single person; it’s not efficient.

Instead, they rely on two particular surveys for important data: the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Current Employment Statistics Survey (CES).


Current Population Survey (CPS)

This is a monthly report wherein the U.S. Census Bureau performs an employment survey for the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

This report began in 1940, and the census took over in the early 1940s.

They survey about 60,000 U.S. households and compile the data to report on the employment status, reported as the “Employment Situation.”

The report has estimates of the unemployment rate and the amounts of employed and unemployed people in the U.S. based on the survey.

The Employment Situation Summary can be viewed monthly. Then, annually, they also include unemployment and unemployment in concentrated metropolitan areas.

The survey inquires about the employment status of every household member over 15 years of age as of the calendar week that includes the day of the 12th.

Based on the responses, everyone in the household is classified as either employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force.


Current Employment Statistics Survey (CES)

The CES is also an important survey for determining unemployment rates.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the CES “produces detailed industry estimates of nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings of workers on payrolls … each month, CES surveys approximately 149,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 651,000 individual worksites.”


Unemployment Reporting Terminology

Here are some additional terms regarding unemployment that can help round out your understanding of the surveys and data available.

Total Employment and the Labor Force

To calculate the unemployment rate, the number of unemployed people is divided by the number of people in the labor force, which consists of all employed and unemployed people.

The ratio is expressed as a percentage.

Persons Not in the Labor Force

When you refer to persons, not in the labor force, this means people who are not employed nor are they unemployed. They’re not looking for work, but they are not discouraged workers.

This includes people who are retired, students, stay-at-home parents, caretakers, and so on.

Industry Payroll Employment Basics

To be considered employed, you have to be on an established payroll.

In the aforementioned surveys, people are counted as employed if they’re on a payroll for any portion of the pay period, including the 12th day of the month.

This includes full-time employees and part-time employees. It includes temporary and intermittent employees too, as well as those who are on paid holidays, sick leave, or who only work for part of the pay period in question.

Workers on strike, provided they work for a portion of the period in the survey, are also included.

Weekly Hours

The expected duration of employment for the week, which is often shown as the number of hours.  

Hourly and Weekly Earnings

Wages or salary earned before taxes or other deductions are taken out. This includes overtime rates, tips, bonuses, and commissions.

If earnings are reported on a different time scale (such as hourly or biweekly), the amount is converted to the equivalent weekly rate.


The Bottom Line

As much as the stock market and the employment rate may seem to reside in separate sectors of society, they’re intrinsically connected.

The stock market can strongly react to the unemployment rate, and it can affect your investments and the economy’s climate.

By considering the unemployment rate and keeping track of the economy at large, you can potentially make more educated decisions about investments.



Tim Sykes

You May Also Be Interested In:

Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is the editor of Tim Sykes’ Weekly Fortunes, a bi-weekly penny stock trader.

He also writes the free daily e-letter, Tim Sykes’ Penny Stock Millionaires

Tim’s most famous for turning the $12,415 dollars he received at his Bar Mitzvah into more than $1.65 million dollars in trading profits by college graduation.

In 2003,...

View More By Timothy Sykes