Economy Week Ahead: Factories, Services, Jobs

A help wanted sign was displayed in front of a restaurant in Los Angeles on May 28.

Photo: frederic j. brown/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The U.S. employment report on Friday highlights this week’s economic data.

MONDAY

China’s official manufacturing index is expected to hold steady in May at 51.1 according to the median forecast of economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The official survey of purchasing managers at China’s factories has stayed above the 50 mark, which separates expansion in activity from contraction, since February 2020 amid strong demand from overseas. In recent months, however, global semiconductor shortages, international logistics jams and rising delivery costs have weighed on manufacturers’ operations.

TUESDAY

Eurozone consumer prices rose at their fastest annual pace in two years in April, though the 1.6% increase was milder than in the U.S., where concerns about inflation are growing. The May reading could show another small gain and the European Central Bank expects inflation to overshoot—if only temporarily—its 2% target later this year as demand picks up while the region’s economy more fully emerges from Covid-19.

The Institute for Supply Management’s survey of purchasing managers at U.S. factories is likely to show activity expanded at a solid clip in May. While output has rebounded rapidly following pandemic-related shutdowns, manufacturers are now struggling to keep up with demand from consumers and businesses amid material shortages, high commodity prices, transportation bottlenecks and difficulty in filling open positions.

Friday

The U.S. jobs report disappointed in April, with employment gains falling well short of expectations. Economists are forecasting a pickup in hiring for May as more people get vaccinated and businesses offer higher pay and other incentives to attract workers. But even with one more month of strong employment gains, the U.S. will still have millions fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic struck, underscoring how the recovery is both uneven and incomplete.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak about central banks and climate change at a global conference. Central banks around the world have increasingly jumped into climate-related policy, though the Fed has moved cautiously amid partisan debate and concerns about expanding its mandate beyond employment and inflation.

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