Given the times we’re in, the Republican tax bill that was signed just this week, and our forecast for December’s non-farm payrolls, we have no choice but to lead with arguably the greatest Christmas curmudgeon of all time. But because it’s the holiday season, we’ll steer clear of politics (mostly) for this post and focus solely on the state of the job market in the U.S. and what things look like as we head into 2018.
To provide a bit of context for what’s happened in the labor market more recently, it’s worth providing (as always) some context about where we are in the the current business cycle. Now 9 years into the post-Great-Recession recovery, we’ve had 86 straight months of positive net job gains – the longest ever reported.
Not surprisingly, given that we’ve been in a full-employment environment for nearly 2 years and unemployment is currently sitting at 4.1%, companies are finding it harder and harder to attract applicants and fill their openings. As a result, while labor demand has remained quite strong, net job gains have been harder to come by. Assuming we’re in the ballpark with our December forecast and that October and November aren’t revised upward, 2017 will mark the 3rd straight year of declining job gains. It would also market the lowest annual total job gains since 2011.
Again, assuming we’re approximately correct in our December forecast, the year-over-year quarterly declines paint a pretty stark picture of what we can likely expect next year regardless of where one is on the political spectrum.
We’ll see what happens in early January when we report our data for December and the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation report, but for now we’ll simply quote the 2nd greatest Christmas curmudgeon…
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