A Yuge Jobs Gain Today

Popular Economics Weekly

The U.S. created 227,000 new jobs in January to mark the largest gain in four months, revealing an economy that has plenty of stamina nearly eight years into a recovery that shows little sign of ending. Retailers, construction firms, financial companies and restaurants led the way in hiring in January, the government said Friday.

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Graph: Marketwatch

The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.8 percent last month, mostly because more people were looking for work, but there is a skills gap with most of the unemployed blue collar workers needing job retraining, rather than additional coal and manufacturing jobs the Trump team is hoping to generate. Job openings are near their record high and that’s drawing a larger share of Americans back into the labor force.

This is while a tighter labor market is also forcing firms to pay more to workers, an emerging trend that’s likely to further underpin the recovery. In January, hourly wages rose 0.1 percent to $26 an hour. Over the past 12 months wages have climbed 2.5 percent—faster than the less than 2 percent annual gains that prevailed through most of the recovery.

What does this mean? Maybe some of those unfilled 5.55 million job openings will be filled. But only if the courts lift the immigration ban that will discourage the influx of skilled workers to fill those jobs, as the Trump administration seems caught in the grips of white nationalist wall-builders, at the moment, such as Steven Bannon, who are very unskilled at writing Executive Orders, it seems.

Chaos is reigning over the immigration ban, at the moment. The global confusion that has since erupted is the story of a White House that rushed to enact, with little regard for basic governing, a core campaign promise that Mr. Trump made to his most fervent supporters, reports the New York Times. In his first week in office, Mr. Trump signed other executive actions with little or no legal review, but his order barring refugees has had the most explosive implications.

Passengers were barred from flights to the United States, customs and border control officials got instructions at 3 a.m. Saturday and some arrived at their posts later that morning still not knowing how to carry out the president’s orders.

Back to the jobs report, there was a huge surge in retail payrolls (46,000), professional services (39,000), and construction jobs (36,000), signaling real estate is still strong, with interest rates still near their record lows.

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Graph: Econoday

More big news was that the service sector is still booming, though it dropped slightly in January. The ISM non-manufacturing, or service sector index “The NMI® registered 56.5 percent which is 0.1 percentage point lower than the seasonally adjusted December reading of 56.6.

Both prices and employment jumped 2.9 and 2.0 percent, respectively, again signaling a tighter labor market. The sector that includes Health Care & Social Assistance; Finance & Insurance; Public Administration; Accommodation & Food Services; Retail Trade; Construction; still reflects strong growth.

“This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slightly slower rate,” said Anthony Nieves, chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “Respondents’ comments are mixed indicating both optimism and a degree of uncertainty in the business outlook as a result of the change in government administration.”

So this uncertainty is another reason to cancel or modify Trump’s immigration ban, as it hurts more than the seven Muslim countries. Scientists worldwide are now cancelling scientific conferences in the US in protest.

Harlan Green © 2017

Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen

About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of PopularEconomics.com, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
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