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OPINION

A Man's Work

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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It was another difficult session for the stock market particularly the NASDAQ, which has tumbled in 9 of the last 10 sessions (see chart). It wasn’t a great session for the New York Stock Exchange, but there were 199 new 52-week highs versus only 29 lows, whereas NASDAQ saw new lows double new highs.

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Breadth

NYSE

NASD

New Highs

119

36

New Lows

29

72

Advancers

38%

33%

Decliners

59%

64%

Now, the index is trading below its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, and the next level of support looks like 4,648; below there, it is extremely vulnerable. This hasn’t been a great year for the tech-driven composite, and it’s now looking for leadership- and support. Interestingly, the pullback has been orderly without panic, but selling begets selling, and the brakes must be put on very soon.

NASDAQ

Men (Not) At Work

It's raining men
Hallelujah
it’s raining men
Amen

-Geri Halliwell

Yep, it’s raining men, but it’s not the jubilant version sang by The Weather Girls. According to ADP, manufacturing jobs declined by 13,000 last month to 12,604,000, less than when President Obama was sworn in and significantly less than 19,531,000 in July 1979. Manufacturing is considered the backbone of America, but there was a time when the mechanism of work was seen as evil. The power loom machine and other devices were part and parcel of the Industrial Revolution that was supposed to be the demise of jobs.

Now, the demise of modern manufacturing and the lineage of that loom machine King Ludd destroyed is seen as the demise of jobs.

A big part of this seismic decline in participation is men fleeing the jobs market. Some may point to Rosie the Riveter and other women entering the labor market during WWII, but there has been a number of reasons for the decline that have seen the participation of men in the jobs market plummet to 69.4% from 86.6%. The good news is that construction jobs are rebounding, but it is still 1.2 million fewer jobs than the peak in July 2006.

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Manufacturing is changing and soon it will be robots, artificial intelligence, drones, and driverless delivery trucks. However, that’s not where we are now and there could be a renaissance in manufacturing promised by candidate and then later President Obama.

This now falls onto the next president to achieve while it’s still achievable.

For men, it’s not about money; it is about so much more; pride and usefulness. In this modern era of stay-at-home dads, I think most men that are waiting for the kid’s school bus don’t want to be there.

Years ago, 56% of fathers that stayed at home were ill or disabled. Now, almost a quarter of stay-at-home dads report that they are home because they can’t find work. Many eventually stop looking; when that happens, a certain kind of depressing aura seizes the home; a certain kind of depressing aura seizes the nation as well.

Thursday’s Session

Ahead of the job’s number Friday, initial claims for unemployment benefits last week rose by 17,000 to 260,000. This number was higher than expected and the largest increase in over a year. A better gauge is the 4 week moving average, which increased by 2000 to 258,000. The trend however still points to an improving job market and claims have been under 300,000 for 61 consecutive weeks.

Layoffs however have pick up steam in April according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, and job cuts for January to April are 250,061, the highest level since 2009. US companies intended on laying off 65, 141 employees, representing an increase of 35% from March. John Challenger, Challenger CEO, stated

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"We continue to see large scale layoffs in the energy sector, where low oil prices are driving down profits. However, we are also seeing heavy downsizing activity in other areas, such as computers and retail, where changing consumer trends are creating a lot of volatility."

Oil was under pressure Thursday morning as wildfires in Ft. McMurray near Canada’s oil sands region has caused 88,000 people to evacuate. Also talks of tension in Libya rises has contributed to an increase of over 3% in the price of oil.

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