US Economy Humming
In any economy, there are bright spots and rough spots. But the latest jobs numbers are encouraging – 292,000 hires in December on top of healthy numbers for the previous few months:
In its monthly jobs report Friday, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate remained 5 percent in December for a third straight month. More Americans started looking for jobs and succeeded in finding them.
The government also said employers added a combined 50,000 more jobs in October and November than it had previously estimated. For the July-September quarter, hiring averaged 284,000 a month
— the best three-month pace in a year.
Many news reports over the last two years have added an asterisk to low unemployment rates – because the participation rate has been lower than usual for the last few years post-recession. While this might be a natural outcome of aging out of the workforce or giving up when jobs are hard to come by, that trend has reversed:
Even as many more jobs have been added, the unemployment rate has held at 5 percent over the past three months because nearly a million more Americans have begun looking for jobs since September.
Of course, in a twist of irony, such a positive report probably contributed to a tough first week of 2016 in the stock market. Can’t win them all. As observed through the Austin lens, we seem to be adding jobs and families at a roughly equivalent rate. I have no idea how construction is keeping up with the inflow of people, and there is some evidence that it is simply not keeping up.