As the American economy enters its eighth year of post-recession growth, the unemployment rate continues to fall. In fact, May’s reported unemployment rate of 4.3% is the lowest in sixteen years, marking just how far we’ve come since a high-point of 10.0% in October 2009. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence from workers and employers and a deeper dive into labor statistics indicate that, despite these improvements, structural issues remain. While concerns such as underemployment and reduced participation in the labor force remain problematic, perhaps the biggest issue for American jobseekers and businesses today is a growing gap between the skills companies seek and the abilities of the workforce. Known as the ‘skills gap,’ this asymmetry can have a damaging ripple effect that weighs on everything from individuals’ opportunities for employment to overall economic productivity.
We’ve commented on the national economy as well as jobs across our country on several occasions over the past couple months. Today, however, we want to comment on the state of employment in, well, our own state: New Jersey. Just how far has the Garden State come in terms of recovering the number of jobs lost since the pre-recession peak in 2008? Very far, according to the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service (R/ECON). To illustrate how close, Nancy Mantell, the director of R/ECON, recently noted that NJ will match the previous high sometime in early 2017.
Between April and July of each year, the youth labor force (16-to-24-year-olds who are either working or actively looking for employment) grows. This should not come as a surprise, however, because summer break leads many more high school and college students to seek out and accept employment. Furthermore, graduation leads a large percentage of this demographic to find and attain permanent employment.
The heightened volatility in the capital markets this year has been due, in part, to concerns surrounding the possibility of another recession. While some economic data, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), are pointing to signs of an economic slowdown, there is one important number showing optimism that investors should keep an eye on: Continue reading “It’s All About the Jobs!”