Donald Trump was quick to take credit for recent job growth numbers released by the Department of Labor, but there are few complications. One is that employment and wage increases are in sectors hiring the highly-skilled and educated, not Trump’s base of white, blue-collar workers. Another is that unemployment ticked up, too, and the jobs that are available aren’t getting filled for reasons puzzling economists. So what’s with the discrepancy?
It’s certainly good news that 222,000 jobs were added last month, ahead of Wall Street projections. But when you dig a little deeper into those numbers, you find some odd trends. Unemployment crept up along with available jobs, which isn’t so unusual. That can happen when more people enter the workforce but haven’t yet found a position. It sounds bad, but actually a small uptick in unemployment can be a good sign.
The unemployment numbers are more of problem when those new job-seeking hopefuls enter the workforce and can’t find a position that’s the right fit. Most of those 222,000 jobs that were added in June were in the service sector. Those are the jobs you need a decent amount of education and training for, like teaching, real estate, investments and banking, telecommunication, health care, etc. There was much less job growth in retail, manufacturing and construction. Unfortunately, that doesn’t line up with the qualifications of many job seekers, and employers wonder why they’re having such a hard time getting candidates in for interviews and retaining new hires.
“This is not a market we have typically seen,” said staffing executive Michael Stull. “We have not before seen unemployment drop, low participation rates and wages not move. That tells you something’s not right in the labor market.”
Part of the trouble is not only what people are qualified to do, but other factors, like how accessible available jobs are, wage growth, and the difficulty of the work. It’s harder for smaller companies that offer lower starting wages, for example, to find workers, or to fill positions for dirty, dangerous, or temporary jobs like roofing or cleaning. The economy’s rebound during the Obama administration meant more jobs, but also choosier employees who aren’t so desperate they’ll take anything. That gets complicated when employers want to resort to visa holders or undocumented workers, who are facing new restrictions from the Trump administration designed to reserve jobs of all levels of appeal for the very Americans who aren’t applying for them.
Trump hasn’t tweeted yet about the new jobs numbers, but he did comment during his trip to Poland ahead of the G20 Summit that everyone is getting rich in the U.S. except for one person — Trump himself. He told the leaders of the Three Seas Initiative, who he was meeting in Warsaw, “Personally I’ve picked up nothing,” but added “that’s all right. Everyone else is getting very rich. That’s ok, I’m very happy.”
(Via New York Times)