Wages growth is here.
On Thursday, we got the latest Employment Cost Index (or ECI), which climbed 0.7% in the first quarter, beating the estimate for a 0.6% gain. The index climbed 2.2% quarter-over-quarter, and 2.6% over the previous year.
That led one economist to suggest that the economy is “beyond full employment.”
And Steven Englander, Citi’s global head of fixed income strategy, highlights something else that’s remarkable about the ECI.
“ECI wages and salaries (dark blue) are now exactly where they were when fed funds began to rise in 2004,” Englander said. He highlighted this with a chart.
Englander notes that while wages were falling then, they are rising now.
The sluggish pace of wage growth is one of the biggest things that has kept the Fed on hold. On Thursday, the ECI, as well as the lower-than-expected initial jobless claims print for last week, signalled more tightness in the labour market.
To be clear, Citi’s economists are not calling for the Federal Reserve to begin hiking rates in June. Englander only points to it as an “interesting” observation.
However on Friday, Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester, said a rate hike next month is still “on the table,” according to Reuters.