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Unemployment rates hold the key

July 9, 2018 11:35 pm

A report released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics called attention to a portentous development: The latest national jobless rates show unemployment is up slightly over last month after three consecutive months of job growth.

The bureau’s report revealed another troubling statistic: The number of unemployed people nationwide increased by nearly 500,000 to 6.6 million, the highest total since the number of unemployed people reached 7 million 12 months ago.

A number of factors could be at play here. The cost of living is rising yet wages are generally stagnant. Retail is struggling because unemployed people don’t spend money or, as wages stagnate, working people don’t earn enough. Companies are hiring and there are jobs, but the workforce is migrating away from places with soaring property taxes, so there are no workers to fill the openings.

“Employers throughout our district tell me that they have available jobs, but that there is a shortage of qualified, work-ready people to fill those jobs,” U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, said last week.

Paradoxically, the number of marginally attached workers, people not actively looking for jobs or people who are discouraged because they don’t see any jobs available to them decreased in June to 359,000 from 378,000 in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment rates for Greene and Columbia counties will not be available until July 24, when the state Department of Labor releases its report. Will it bring good news, a nagging persistence of upsetting trends or, worse, uncertainty about our economic forecast? We are holding our collective breath.