The Trade: American Dream Now a Part-Time Job and an Apartment
The American Dream used to be a house to call your own that you paid for with a steady paycheck after an honest day's work. But in this post-financial-crisis nation, the dream for many now means having a part-time job and being able to rent an apartment.
And with unemployment and wages stagnant, as well as uncertainty about the costs of the new health care act for employers, the pared-down expectations may be a trend for years to come.
"The quality of the jobs being added are quite low, especially relative to the jobs that were lost," said an economist from a major Wall Street investment bank, who declined to be named because he hasn't published on this trend yet. "Homeownership, especially for the younger, is quite low, showing perhaps some secular decline."
The jobs report on Friday showed that May unemployment was unchanged at 7.6 percent.
(Read More: How Home Ownership Causes Unemployment)
But digging deeper into the data reveals a different story. The unemployment rate was just 3.8 percent for those with a bachelor's degree and higher. Its 7.4 percent for those with only a high school degree.
The number of workers who are "part-time for economic reasons" is higher than it has ever been after every recession since 1950, according to the Department of Labor.
And average weekly hours for private employees remains 33.6 hours—about what it was just after the recession ended in 2009.
We shouldn't expect those average hours to rise, because small businesses and retailers face new health-care rules to be enacted in 2014. In fact, hours may even decline.
(Read More: Rising Rates Hit REITs Hard)
"As part of the staggered introduction of the Affordable Care Act, from the start of 2014 employers with more than 50 employees will be fined $2,000 per employee if they fail to offer health insurance to full-time workers," Capital Economics wrote in a note last month. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that some retailers and restaurant chains have already started to limit employees to working 30 hours or less per week."
And while part-time employment booms, so too does demand for multifamily units, which include apartment buildings for renting or cheaper condos for buying. During the height of the housing boom in 2006, more single-family units were being built than multifamily dwellings. So what's the trade?
First, you have the publicly traded real estate investment trusts that specialize in multifamily units. These REITs have underperformed the rest of sector this year but may be setting up for a nice investment, according to analysts.
"While the stock market has elected to generally ignore the multifamily REITs year-to-date, we believe the market can't ignore solid results and attractive valuations forever," UBS analyst Ross Nussbaum wrote in a note to clients last month. The adjusted funds from operations (a common valuation metric for the sector measuring funds from operations) for the multifamily REITs is below that of the whole REIT industry for the first time since 2000, UBS noted.
As for stocks that will benefit from the permanent part-timers, there are the staffing companies.
JPMorgan's favorite is Robert Half International (RHI), which trades at 16 times 2014 EPS, versus its median forward P/E of 28 during the last economic expansion.
(See More: Map: Tracking the US Real Estate Recovery)
The best play, however, may be LinkedIn, as it will be the networking place of choice for jobseekers—especially the young—to find any type of employment.
And the young have been hit hardest during this recession. The unemployment rate for those between the ages 20 and 24 is over 12 percent.
"LinkedIn is the one social network that gives its users a way to 'monetize' the time spent on the network," said Brian Kelly of Brian Kelly Capital.