STRONG JOB MARKET SUPPORTS CASE FOR SOFT LANDING
Recent economic and market data have reignited conversations about a potential soft landing. As we wrote in Midyear Outlook 2022: Navigating Turbulence, the ongoing economic recovery from the global pandemic required businesses and consumers to pilot the economy into a soft landing but that path would go through turbulence. As we subsequently developed Outlook 2023: Finding Balance, we thought the markets would be choppy as the world found its balance, while we waited for inflation to decelerate and central banks to ease up on their rate hiking campaigns.
So where are we in the business cycle? If you focus on jobs, the U.S. economy is headed toward a soft landing. Excluding the blowout report for January, average job gains were on a smooth downward trajectory (Figure 1). Minimal turbulence in the trend line is consistent with a pathway to a smooth landing. In fact, the blowout jobs report did not alter the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) playbook.
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