If, like many farmers, you’re struggling to meet labor needs on your operation, you already know the competition is tough to attract and retain employees. It could get tougher, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent Monthly Jobs Report.
It estimates 250,000 new jobs were created in October, putting the current unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. But according to economist Bob Young, President of Agricultural Prospects, a deeper look beyond the headline numbers shows a slightly different story.
“Long-term unemployed numbers – those out of a job for 27 weeks or more – stayed at 1.4 million, or 22.5 percent of the total unemployed,” Young explained. “Similarly, there are still 4.6 million people who are involuntarily in part-time positions.”
According to Young, people who are marginally linked to the job market, but who did not look for work in the four-week period prior to the survey continue to sit at 1.5 million, almost identical to the figures reported a year earlier.
“A little deeper dive into this figure shows 506,000 people who are not looking for work because they simply believe there are no jobs that fit their needs or qualifications,” Young said. “Two-thirds of the 1.5 million individuals who did not look for work in the four-week period before the survey (984,000 people) did so because of school attendance or other family responsibilities.”
Young’s analysis shows the health care sector continued to add numbers, with 36,000 new jobs. Manufacturing came in with 32,000 additions--transportation equipment-related jobs were 10,000 of that total. Construction added 30,000 jobs, including 14,000 in residential specialty trade contractors.
“The shift in how consumers buy things continues to be a large part of the changing job picture,” Young said. “Transportation and warehousing added 25,000 jobs – read that as Amazon and other online shopping, with wholesale and retail trade – read that as the Sears and other department stores of the world - essentially unchanged.”
Along with the wholesale and retail trade sector, the information and financial activities sectors and overall government employment were essentially flat compared to last month.
The average hourly earnings for all employees are up 3.1 percent over the year, an indicator of both a strong economy and future inflationary pressures advises Young. “With the prospect of rising inflation comes the expectation of the Federal Reserve considering more tightening,” he said. “This is certainly one reason the equities markets are as skittish as they have been over the last few weeks.”