I have been accused, when I write these annual forecasts, of being too positive and too enthusiastic about the upcoming year’s economic environment especially as it relates to jobs and employment. How can I not be enthusiastic? Every year since 2009 we have seen growth.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on 12/5/2014 that employers added 321,000 jobs in November, the most in nearly three years. This has been the best 12 months of job increases since 1999!
Job growth was widespread, led by gains in professional and business services, retail trade, health care, and manufacturing. Employment continued to trend up in temporary help services (+23,000), management and technical consulting services (+7,000), computer (+5,000). And employers are paying workers more: Average weekly earnings rose 2.4 percent from a year earlier, their fastest pace in a year.
Another piece of good news: employment in professional and business services increased by 86,000 in November, compared with an average gain of 57,000 per month over the prior 12 months. So these job gains are not on the low paying scale, the average hourly salary in the professional and business sector is $24.66.
Even first-time jobless claims in the week ending December 13 were down 6,000 from the previous week’s level. Economists at Briefing.com say the claims data continue to suggest an economy at, or near, full employment.
In local employment news, the current unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in Saratoga County. And job growth also was strong, with the Capital Region recovering all the jobs it had lost during the Great Recession.
But the workforce is shrinking, and by November was down to levels not seen for the month since 1996. Analysts attributed the shrinkage to two factors: an aging workforce that was retiring, and discouraged workers who had given up the search for a job.
So where are the jobs in 2015? According to Simply Hired: Media, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Military and Construction are the industries that will continue to show growth. Information Technology positions including Web and Software development job postings are up 15% from 2010. In fact, 70 percent of Americans currently hold jobs that were technically nonexistent 20 years ago.
So I’m still thinking positive for 2015. There’s always a chance that Russia’s economic crisis could affect our continued recovery or that a Middle East conflict could disrupt growth. But the falling oil prices are expected to help the US economy, and add to employment and business activity. This slow and meandering recovery that I have had the pleasure of reporting about for these forecasts over the last few years seems to be continuing. But I think it’s time to retire the “recovery” moniker that we have used since 2009. We have gained all the jobs lost from the Great Recession and we can look forward to sustaining that growth in 2015. We’ve recovered.
Owner, Integrated Staffing