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Apr 29, 2019

Real Time Economics | More Women Go Blue Collar; Economy’s Supply Side Looking Brighter.

The Wall Street Journal.
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Real Time Economics 

Women Wanted

More women are taking blue-collar jobs in industries long dominated by men, including trucking, public safety and construction. Driving the trend: a tight labor market, relatively better pay and a growing recognition among women that they won’t be the only one in the field. The increase has been especially pronounced in transportation and material moving, a sector that includes truck drivers, delivery people and warehouse workers. The number of women in the sector grew 43% from 2000 to 2018 while the overall number of women in the workforce increased just 15%, Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath report.
Keep on truckin'. Today, nearly 9% of truck drivers are women, the highest share on record back to 1994, according to The Conference Board.

What to Watch Today

U.S. consumer spending for March is expected to rise 0.7% from the prior month. (8:30 a.m. ET)
The personal-consumption-expenditure price index, excluding food and energy, for March is expected to rise 0.1% from a month earlier and 1.7% from a year earlier. (8:30 a.m. ET)
The Dallas Fed manufacturing survey for April is expected to rise to 10.0 from 8.3 a month earlier. (10:30 a.m. ET)
China's official purchasing-managers index for manufacturing in April is expected to edge down to 50.4 from 50.5 a month earlier. (9 p.m. ET)

Top Stories

Sweet Spot

For much of the past year, it looked plausible that a faster-growing U.S. economy was simply running on a sugar high of temporarily elevated demand. Now signs are emerging that the supply side of the economy—the workers and the tools and machines they use to produce goods and services—is becoming energized, Jon Hilsenrath writes.
  • It’s not a sure thing. It could fade. But if sustained, it would mean more income growth in the long-run with less inflation eating away at those gains.
  • You can boost economic growth in the short-run by juicing demand, such as with tax cuts or spending increases. But you can only sustain faster growth in the long-run with more workers producing goods and services more efficiently.
  • Watch this week's Labor Department reports on productivity and employment for signals on the economy's supply-side forces. Add productivity growth of around 2% with labor force growth of around 1%, and you might have a formula for lasting 3% growth in economic output.

New Nafta Snagged in Congress

President Trump’s push to revamp North America’s trade rules is hitting a roadblock. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and other Democrats have signaled they won’t allow a vote on the administration’s new agreement without changes. For example, Democrats want to make it easier to enforce new rules designed to strengthen labor rights in Mexico, saying a lack of worker protections there is hurting wages and job prospects for U.S. workers, William Mauldin reports.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement, or USMCA, must still be ratified by all three countries. The deal has yet to get through the ratification process in Canada and Mexico, but it is the prospect of resistance in the U.S. that now stands as the biggest question mark.

Hello, Friend

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing on Tuesday. The face-to-face talks suggest a trade deal is approaching, though underlying tensions remain. While the Trump administration has sought to emphasize the damage of Beijing’s economic espionage—an area of focus in current negotiations—U.S. officials say China has also grown bolder and more successful in traditional spy games.
Warning. Chinese espionage is the single most significant long-term strategic threat facing the U.S., according to senior U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials. It encompasses both spycraft intended to steal government secrets and the sustained heist of intellectual property and research from the corporate and academic worlds, Aruna Viswanatha and Dustin Volz report.

Hog Wild

China is culling millions of hogs after a deadly outbreak of African swine fever. That is shrinking global meat supplies—and boosting prices. The shift is welcome for U.S. meatpackers and farmers, whose hogs remain free of the disease, after a tough patch of low prices driven by record U.S. meat production and Chinese tariffs, Jacob Bunge and Kirk Maltais report.

Eurozone Gloom

Manufacturers in the eurozone are more pessimistic about their prospects than any time since late 2014. The European Commission’s monthly survey of industrial sentiment fell to minus 4.1 in April from minus 1.6 a month earlier. That's the weakest reading since September 2014 and suggests economic growth is unlikely to quickly regain the momentum it lost last year. Official figures for economic output in the first three months of 2019 are due out Tuesday, Paul Hannon reports.

European Upstarts

European countries are becoming harder to govern. Spain’s parliamentary elections produced no clear winner, the latest example of Europe’s fragmenting political landscape. From Germany to the Netherlands to France to Italy, moderate conservatives and moderate social democrats are steadily declining in terms of their combined share of the vote. Antiestablishment insurgents are gaining ground. The result: Complex coalitions have become necessary to keep the broadly centrist political establishment in power, Giovanni Legorano and Marcus Walker report.
Socialists won the most votes, but Spain's Vox party grabbed 10% of the ballots, making it the country's first significant far-right movement since the end of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in 1975.
 

Quote of the Day

What Else We're Reading

America's most educated women face the biggest gender gaps in seniority and pay. "Just as more women earned degrees, the jobs that require those degrees started paying disproportionately more to people with round-the-clock availability. ... Women don’t step back from work because they have rich husbands ... They have rich husbands because they step back from work," Claire Cain Miller writes in the New York Times.
Central banks broke capitalism. "Monetary policy helped cushion downturns and kick the debt can further down the road. Yet this has come at the cost of deeper long-term fragilities. Persistent low interest rates have made the financial system more levered, encouraging risk-taking. They have also increased social and corporate inequality—making the rich richer and giving large firms an advantage through cheap funding in bond markets," Algebris Investments's Alberto Gallo writes at Bloomberg Opinion
If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead. There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), in an op-ed linking the Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs with Congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement

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