The economic recovery may not be booming, but at least it seems to be moving in the right direction. Some promising statistics are surfacing:
The 5% Crossover. Of the nation’s 372 metro areas, 49 of them (13%) now have jobless rates below 5%. This is the best it has been since the beginning of the recession in 2008. At that time, only two cities had a jobless rate below 5%. Remember, given normal circumstances of job changes, 5.2 to 5.6% is regarded as full employment.
The Fed Beige Book Review. The Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book’s review of economic conditions cites 6 out of 12 districts in which companies are struggling to find skilled workers. These are Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City (Missouri), New York, and Richmond (Virginia).
Open Positions. Nationally, the number of open positions grew by 299,000 to 4.17 million early this year. This was the largest gain since 2008.
In addition to these facts, Steve Matthews reports a typical experience among business owners (“Help Wanted Signs Are Popping Up in U.S. Cities” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/28/14–5/4/14, pp. 20–21):
“To hire 10 to 15 project coordinators this year, Texas builder Sabre Commercial has boosted pay 10 percent and added a 401(k) retirement plan. ‘It is an employee’s market,’ says John Cyrier, co-founder and president of the 48-employee Austin-based company. ‘We are definitely seeing a labor shortage in Austin and central Texas. I see it only getting worse.’” (p. 20)
Hey, with all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth about how bad our economy is, I will take any good news at all. The recovery may not be a flood, but at least the water is moving in the right direction.