Friday, May 6, 2022

Jobapalooza, Con't

America has now recovered nearly all of the 21 million jobs lost to Trump's COVID collapse two years ago.

The U.S. economy added slightly more jobs than expected in April amid an increasingly tight labor market and despite surging inflation and fears of a growth slowdown, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls grew by 428,000 for the month, a bit above the Dow Jones estimate of 400,000. The unemployment rate was 3.6%, slightly higher than the estimate for 3.5%. The April total was identical to the downwardly revised count for March.

There also was some better news on the inflation front: Average hourly earnings continued to grow, but at a 0.3% level for the month that was a bit below the 0.4% estimate. On a year-over-year basis, earnings were up 5.5%, about the same as in March but still below the pace of inflation.

An alternative measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons, sometimes referred to as the “real” unemployment rate, edged higher to 7%. Unemployment for Blacks has showed a steady decline and fell again, to 5.9%, while Hispanic unemployment dropped to 4.1%.

“The job market continues to plow forward, buoyed by strong employer demand. After just over two years of the pandemic, the job market is remaining resilient and on track for a return to pre-pandemic levels this summer,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at jobs review site Glassdoor. “However, the job market is showing some signs of cooling as it turns the corner and the recovery enters a new phase.”

The labor force participation rate, a key measure of worker engagement, fell 0.2 percentage points for the month to 62.2%, the first monthly decline since March 2021 as the labor force contracted by 363,000. The level is of particularly importance with a gap of about 5.6 million between job postings and available workers.

“Demand for labor remains very strong; the problem is a shortage of available workers, and the decline in the labor force participation rate in April could add to wage pressures,” wrote PNC chief economist Gus Faucher.

Leisure and hospitality again led job growth, adding 78,000. The unemployment rate for the sector, which was hit hardest by the Covid pandemic, plunged to 4.8%, its lowest since September 2019 after peaking at 39.3% in April 2020. Average hourly earnings for the sector increased 0.6% on the month and are up 11% from a year ago.

Other big gainers included manufacturing (55,000), transportation and warehousing (52,000), Professional and business services (41,000), financial activities (35,000) and health care (34,000). Retail also showed solid growth, adding 29,000 primarily from gains in food and beverage stores.

Some of the details in the report, though, were not as strong.

The survey of households actually showed a decline of 353,000, leaving the level 761,000 short of where it was in February 2020, just prior to the start of the pandemic. April marked the first monthly decrease in the household survey since April 2020.
The household survey number is something to watch, but for now, we've climbed out of the hole that Trump put us in.  Well, climbed out of one of the many deep chasms Trump put America in, at any rate.  

Black unemployment is still very low, too.  The problem is another round of global supply chain issues from COVID wreaking havoc in China and rising interest rates to corral inflation are battering markets worldwide, and it's only a matter of time before things start turning south again here.

We'll see where we are in the future, but for now, Biden did it.  The cost was heavy, but he did it.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Six weeks ago I told you about Mason, Tennessee, a tiny majority black town with a part-time local government trying to fix the embezzlement issues from a white Republican local government that trashed the town's finances.  They got no help from the state at all, and managed to get their heads above water anyway.

The NAACP stepped in to help Mason with its legal issues, and the good news is now we have a preliminary settlement in the works.

After alleging that Tennessee’s top leaders were placing unfair scrutiny over a predominantly Black town’s finances, the small town of Mason announced Wednesday it had reached a deal halting the threat of a state takeover of its finances.

The settlement marks a victory for town officials who had argued the state was treating Mason’s majority-Black leaders differently than they have white administrators who also struggled with finances.

“This settlement agreement is a good thing for the citizens of the town and it’s a good thing for African Americans across the country,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

The issue began when Comptroller Jason Mumpower asked Mason’s town leaders to surrender their charter, pointing to ongoing years of financial mismanagement. After Mason voters refused to do so, Mumpower later said the state would take over its financial supervision.

The news of the pending takeover quickly sparked national attention as many pointed out that Mason is located near the site of a future $5.6 billion Ford electric pickup truck factory, which is expected to employ about 5,600 workers at the plant, and construction of the factory will create thousands more jobs.

The 2020 Census shows Mason’s population at about 1,330. But that fell to less than 800 after a private prison closed recently.

“For far too long, we’ve seen highways going through our cities in our community, or hostile takeover by states,” Johnson said. ”Here’s an opportunity for the citizens to retain their charter, implement best practices and participate in the opportunities that the economic development we’re bringing for this community.”

Town leaders quickly filed a lawsuit — with the help of the NAACP — hoping to stop the takeover, alleging the pending Ford plant has sparked extra scrutiny. In particular, the suit sought to challenge the state’s edict that Mason get approval to spend more than $100 — a strict requirement that town leaders said would make it impossible to do business.

“They set up Mason to fail,” said attorney Van Turner Jr., president of the NAACP Memphis branch who represented Mason’s town leaders
But they couldn't sweep this under the rug after the outrage six weeks ago. While Mason will continue to work in good faith reporting open books and town expenses to the state, the state will leave the town alone.

I fully expect the state to cut the town out of any revenue from the impending Interstate 40 construction or Ford's Blue Oval City project in the months ahead, but that's not going to stop Mason from getting visitors and customers to local businesses.

Keep an eye on Mason.

Black Lives Still Matter.
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