With the U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest in almost a half-century, businesses are finding workers increasingly difficult to come by.
And that means they might start having to pay up for employees -- hitting corporations' bottom lines as they seek to expand in a growing economy.
A report due out Friday, Nov. 2, from the Labor Department is expected to show that non-farm payrolls rose by 190,000 jobs in October, based on a survey by the data provider FactSet. And the unemployment rate probably held steady in October at 3.7%, the lowest since the first year of Richard Nixon's presidency in 1969.
Average hourly earnings probably rose by 0.2% during the month, enough to push up wages by 3% from a year earlier. At that level, workers' pay is rising faster than the current pace of inflation, about 2%.
President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion of tax cuts last December have fattened corporate profits, while also stimulating the U.S. economy and creating jobs. But the fast-rising wages could be a symptom of Trump's push to push through a fiscal stimulus -- at the expense of a fast-rising $21.5 trillion national debt -- at a time when the unemployment rate was already low.
Historically, tax cuts are used by officials to stimulate the economy during or after a recession, when the unemployment rate is higher.
Concerns over the higher wages could help explain the 6.6% drop in over the past month in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of large U.S. stocks.
Federal Reserve officials, who are monitoring wage increases for signs of whether they will trigger faster inflation, noted the scramble for workers in a report last week. As employers spend more on workers, they often will try to raise the prices of goods and services to recoup their costs.
"Labor shortages were broadly noted and were linked to wage increases and/or constrained growth," according to the Oct. 24 report, known as the Fed's Beige Book. "Employers throughout the country continued to report tight labor markets and difficulties finding qualified workers, including highly skilled engineers, finance and sales professionals, construction and manufacturing workers, IT professionals, and truck drivers."
"Companies are having margin pressures because of rising wages, which may be a good thing for the overall economy, but not as good for corporate profitability," Fink told the network.
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