Could this be the end of the road for the long upward trend in rising profit margins? Rising wages are cutting into profits at major corporations, and it could be the end of an era in which it has seemed as though profit margins would rise forever. Danielle Chemtob reports at The Wall Street Journal:
Rising wages are beginning to eat into the profits of some U.S. companies.
Firms from dollar stores to hotel operators to fast-food chains have warned in recent months that higher labor costs have been a drag on their profits—a potential headwind for the nine-year stock-market rally as it struggles for momentum ahead of the second-quarter earnings season.
Average hourly earnings increased 2.7% in June from a year earlier, according to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs data released Friday. Although that is below the 2.8% economists expected, wages have risen at least 2.5% for 16 of the past 17 months, a faster pace than recorded earlier in the economic expansion.
That is good news for U.S. workers who have seen tepid wage increases over the past few years and may benefit some businesses as consumers become more willing to open their wallets for discretionary purchases.
But the higher costs pose a threat to some U.S. companies that are already facing trade-related tensions and a limited ability to raise prices to keep up with inflation. Fears about rising wages sparked concerns back in February and sent stocks tumbling as investors worried the tightening labor market may finally trigger higher inflation.
Read more here.
Jeremy Jones, CFA
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