The Employed and the Drop-Outs

downloadHeadlines told us that the U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs in November, dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6%—the lowest level since August 2007, and surely an improvement over the 10% rates of the Great Recession.  Those numbers represent great news, and indicate that the country is in strong shape as President-elect Trump takes office.

However, a degree of caution is in order as we look closer at the numbers.  For one thing, average hourly earnings for all American workers declined by three cents, to $25.89, after large gains in October.  Overall, average hourly earnings are up 2.5% this year, which is lower than you might expect if there was tight competition for workers.

Beyond that, part of the drop in unemployment was the result of new jobs, but a larger part was the fact that 226,000 people dropped out of the labor force in November, following a similar decline of 195,000 in October.  The total labor force was 157.03 million in the U.S. in January 2015, and has risen somewhat sluggishly to 159.49 million in November 2016—despite 4.8 million new worker-age Americans coming into the economy.  The bottom line: people are dropping out faster than they’re being hired—for some reason.

This is not intended to be discouraging news.  The U.S. economy is clearly in much better shape today than it was five or eight years ago, and most people can find work if they want to.  Among those who will be looking hard at the numbers behind the numbers are Fed chairperson Janet Yellen and her team of economists, who will want to know when—or if—the unemployment rate has dropped so low that there is real competition for labor, driving significant increases in wages, driving inflation up high enough that it will be necessary to raise interest rates.  That will be a topic of debate at the next Fed meeting December 13-14.

Sources:

http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/StreetTalk/nonfarm-payrolls-jobs-unemployment-media/2016/12/02/id/761870/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/02/u-s-economy-added-178000-jobs-in-november-unemployment-rate-drops-to-4-6-percent/?utm_term=.519490446fee

 

About Objectively Speaking

Tom Batterman, founder of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy and Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is in the business of representing the best financial interests of his clients. Having provided objective, fee-only financial management services for over two decades, he specializes in managing the investment and related financial affairs of individuals and mutual insurance companies who do not have the time, interest or expertise to manage such matters on their own. As an objective, unbiased professional who takes on a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, he guides clients to the financial decisions they would make themselves if they had years of training and experience and the time and expertise to fully research and understand all of their options. Founded in 2010 as an outgrowth of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy, Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is a financial management solution for individuals and mutual insurance companies who recognize they do not have the time, interest or expertise to properly attend to their financial matters on their own. While there are many financial “advisors”, most of them have investment products to sell and the “advice” they provide is geared toward getting their clients to engage in a purchase. As one of the rare subset of advisors known as “fiduciary advisors”, Financial Fiduciaries does not sell any investment product so its guidance is not compromised by conflicts of interest which plague ordinary advisors. Prior to his employment in the financial industry in financial advocacy and trust positions, he worked at a private law practice in the Wausau area in the areas of estate planning, tax, retirement planning, corporate organizations and real estate. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW-Madison Law School and has during his career held Series 7, 24 and 65 securities licenses. A longtime resident of the Wausau, Wisconsin Area, Tom is active in the community. He enjoys golf, curling, skiing, fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
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