Unemployment at a 16-Year Low

The unemployment rate hit a 16-year low in May, but hiring has lost some steam as the economy added 138,000 jobs – well below the 180,000 average that was expected. The government reported that unemployment dropped to 4.3%, and “analysts are split on whether the slower pace is a sign of the labor market’s tightness or its slack.”

‘“Even though job growth slowed, it’s still well above where it needs to be to keep up with the working-age population growth,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, an online recruiting site. ‘It’s inevitable that we would start to see a slowdown in the payroll numbers. Month-after-month job gains in the 200,000 range are not sustainable long term. The working-age population is growing too slowly to support that.”’

Following the recession recovery, there has been stable, historic, job growth – so much so that the labor market is nearing full employment. Many argue that there are just not many workers left, and employers continue to face difficulty hiring qualified (or the opposite: entry-level) staff. Manufacturing companies are either steering one way or the other – offering a 10% wage increase to unskilled laborers to attract quality workers and retain them, or working directly with high school and community colleges to fill the minimum wage jobs.

“Also troubling is the decline in overall participation in the labor force, which has trudged along below 63 percent during the recovery, compared with more than 66 percent before the recession. Some of the tiny gains that had been made were knocked off in May, showing more people were dropping out of the labor force than returning.”

The market for specific-skilled jobs is booming, however those that have been out of the workforce for some time are less marketable in this economy – and many employers are not inclined to train and invest the time and energy on young workers that are just looking to pad their resumes.