Uniform Rentals Suggest Extended Job Gains

Investor argues performance of uniform-rental companies is good gauge of U.S. hiring trends.

Cintas Corp. and UniFirst Corp. may show the U.S. labor market is extending its two-year rebound when they release quarterly results in the next five weeks.

Investors such as Lawrence Creatura at Federated Investors Inc. watch uniform-rental companies to gauge hiring trends for employees in manufacturing, automotive, hospitality and similar work. Even though these jobs account for only about 10 percent of employment, optimism in this industry can be “really symptomatic of the health of a wide swath of American businesses” they serve, said Creatura, who helps to oversee $370 billion as a fund manager in Rochester, New York.

Little Benefit

G&K Services is getting “very little benefit from gains in its base,” as its add-stop metric has fluctuated marginally between positive and negative in the past year, said Jeff Huebschen, director of investor relations. More than 1 million employees working in a “fairly broad swath of the economy” wear uniforms supplied by the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company, he said.

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