Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

Another voice: Good news on the jobs front

Accompanied by the customary cautionary note about analysis based on one month's figures, June's job creation rate, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, should have provided Americans with a shaft of light Friday.

June produced a better-than-expected 222,000 new jobs, supplemented by an adjustment upward of 47,000 of April and May figures. Unemployment rose a tick, to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent, but that is still low. Average hourly wages were up 2.5 percent from a year ago. Labor-force participation rose slightly, to 62.8 percent from 62.7 percent, even as some employers complained of difficulty in filling jobs. Inflation, a key factor for poor and middle-class people in the face of generally stagnant wages, remains under 2 percent.

Although it is too early to claim a "Trump bump" upward in the economy, June's figures, coupled with a robust stock market, should be seen as positive and cause for hope.

There are still shoes waiting to drop and a considerable number of issues with unknown or potentially negative longer-term impact. One of these is the paralysis in Washington on some very important issues, some in areas where President Donald Trump as a candidate promised action. There is no agreed-upon budget. Raising the national debt limit above $20 trillion will be contentious. The direction America will go on health care remains tortuously tangled.

Tax reform is somewhere over the rainbow. The promised job-creating infrastructure bill is nowhere in sight.

Also on the negative side is a slowdown in auto sales and the fact that the spurt in new jobs seems to have resulted partly from growth in public-sector employment rather than in the manufacturing and retail sectors generally watched for signs of economic health. The long-term employment impact of Trump's policies on immigration and American participation in international trade pacts has yet to become visible.

All in all, however, the job figures released on July 7 look good. Americans need some good news right now.

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