L: Be impressed. We are out and about, headed for an NBEIC meeting in Seattle and we still wrote a blog! It's a first!
J: A key factor in the confidence levels of consumers and their spending patterns is how they feel their chances are for finding a job if they need or want one. Fortunately, the BLS gives us vital information on this every month, most recently on August 8 in their JOLTS report. (L: I just love that name.)
As the chart shows, on June 30 there were a record 6,163,300 job openings in the US on a seasonally adjusted basis. Because the JOLTS report has data available one month later than the total employment report does, few people pay much attention to it. That is a big mistake and one of our missions is to tell you about important data that too few people notice.
A whopping 5,588,000 of those job opening on June 30 were in the private sector. There were 1,208,000 openings in "Professional and business services," a generally desirable and relatively high-paying set of occupations such as consultants, CPAs, economists and lawyers; 1,135,000 openings in "Health care and social assistance"; 723,000 openings in "Accommodations and food services"; 624,000 in "retail trade"; and 388,000 openings in "Manufacturing."
On May 31, 2017 there had been 5,702,000 job openings in the US, with 5,171,000 of them in the private sector (both seasonally adjusted, of course). Employers worked hard to fill those May 31 openings during June and they actually made 5,026,000 hires. That would have nearly solved their problems except that there were 4,912,000 separations in June.
This huge amount of churn in the labor markets is not a new story. My blog of April 15 covered this and referred to comments President Reagan made about it over 30 years ago. For the year ended June 30, employers (both private and public sectors) made 63,400,000 hires. In the same year they experienced 61,100,000 separations. Thus 124,500,000 job changes occurred to wind up with a net gain of 2,300,000 jobs.
Another timely and very important economic indicator of the health of the labor market is the number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance. These data come from the Department of Labor and we get a new report every week.
Most analysts pay far more attention to the four-week moving average of these claims rather than the individual weekly data. The chart below shows the four-week moving average.
Jim O'Sullivan, the US chief economist for High Frequency Economics, regularly, points out that you don't need to worry about a recession in the near-term unless initial claims start rising rapidly and steadily. The chart demonstrates the truth of his observations as you see spikes of jobless claims occurring at the grey bars, which are periods of recession. (L: Which happens to be a case for encouraging, not discouraging, immigration.)
You will also note that the levels of those claims over the past year or so are lower than at any other time since 1973. That is astounding, as the level of total employment in July 2017 (153,513,000 people on a seasonally adjusted basis) is far above the 85 million levels of 1973.
The following chart of total employment shows this clearly. We are now at record levels of total employment.
That bodes well for the economic future. It is also a good sign for the 6,981,000 people in July who were unemployed and looking for work. There are attractive opportunities for new jobs all across the country.
Good luck to all those job seekers. The right position for you is out there!