Positive developments in the labor market could be evidence that the U.S. has is seeing a turning point in the jobs market, Automatic Data Processing CEO Carlos Rodriguez told CNBC’s Jim Cramer Wednesday.
As the economy shed tens of millions of jobs since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the benchmark S&P 500 has rallied about 30% from its bottom later that month.
“I think what might be happening is [investors] may be already anticipating the worst may have been behind us” in slowing the spread of coronavirus, Rodriguez said in a “Mad Money” interview. “I don’t know, because, obviously, I’m not a scientist and I’m not a doctor, but we have seen a couple of indicators of some bottoming” in recruitment data.
Mass layoffs caused by countrywide coronavirus shutdowns pushed a record 26.45 million Americans to file for unemployment claims within the matter of five weeks as officials attempted to slow the spread of Covid-19.
About 4 million people sought jobless benefits in the Labor Department’s most recent report, which was down from higher rates in prior weeks. A record 6.6 million individuals filed for benefits in back-to-back weeks earlier this month.
The next weekly jobless report is slated to come out Thursday morning.
“This downturn is much worst than what we saw in the last two recessions, in terms of just magnitude and also the speed, but that doesn’t’ mean that it necessarily has to last as long,” Rodriguez said.
Prior to the nationwide layoffs, stocks on Wall Street began to sell off as the coronavirus outbreak reached Europe and eventually the United States. Investors feared that the health crisis would stunt the economy and the S&P 500 plunged from a peak close of 3,386.15 on Feb. 12. The index would ultimately lose 34% of its value within six weeks.
Wall Street is the “ultimate look into the future,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, who runs the largest payroll processor in America, said he saw positive signs in the hiring front that could indicate that the jobs market has made it through the most painful part of the downturn. ADP’s human resources systems, which track new job postings and new hires screenings, has changed trajectory, he said.
There could be an uptick in hiring as states authorize nonessential businesses, such as barbershops, nail salons and dine-in restaurants, to resume operations. Government officials in Alaska, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee have begun easing restrictions on establishments. Vice President Mike Pence last week said that more than a dozen states have presented “formal reopening plans.”
“Those numbers just kind of fell off the cliff at the end of March all the way into April and the last couple weeks we’ve begun to see those numbers actually stabilize,” Rodriguez explained. “That doesn’t mean that people are getting hired yet, but it’s possible that companies already are anticipating some kind of normalization or some kind of opening in certain states and they already may be actually posting jobs.”
“The [stock] market has a way of sensing these things, but I think you know that better than I do,” Rodriguez told Cramer.
In its third quarter report for the 2020 fiscal year, ADP posted earnings per share of $1.92, 3 cents per share above estimates, and revenue of $4 billion that was in line with Wall Street’s forecast. The stock rose almost 2% to $145.84, despite the company’s decision to reduce its outlook for the year.