Working
Column Published in syndication June 22, 2022

May was another solid month for the Texas job market, with the state posting by far the largest gain across the nation (+74,200), well above California (+42,900) and New York (+26,800). Texas was also near the top in percentage increase, an unusual feat for such a large state.

A Most Remarkable Number!
Column Published in syndication December 15, 2021

It is no exaggeration to say that I have seen millions of numbers every week since the late 1970s (comments regarding my social life are neither encouraged nor welcomed). On those rare occasions when one startles me, I can't help but mention it.

The Wrong Answer
Column Published in syndication May 19, 2021

Texas recently opted out of federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the $300 weekly supplement. The reason often given is that there are as many job openings as there are Texans receiving benefits, with the implication being that people will now be more eager to enter the workforce.

Working Women
Column Published in syndication April 28, 2021

Although the pandemic has spared no one, it has had a disproportionate impact on working women. Over the past year, females have been more likely to leave the workforce due to job losses or conflicts with the added responsibilities surrounding childcare and household sustainability. As the economy recovers, these valuable members of the workforce will be essential. The latest Census numbers make that abundantly clear. Moreover, for many, working is indispensable for financial stability.

A Milestone
Column Published in syndication March 31, 2021

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits in the US fell to 684,000 in late March for the first time in a year. Believe it or not, that's important. "Initial claims" sounds like something only an economist could love (and a nerdy one at that). This weekly statistic represents the first filing for unemployment for a specific claim--basically layoffs or jobs that have recently been eliminated. We normally don't pay much attention to it, but it got more headlines during the pandemic as a weekly barometer for how the economy was faring.

Looking Ahead
Column Published in syndication January 06, 2021

After a rugged and seemingly endless 2020, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. We are not done yet, but with vaccination programs ongoing and the disease and effective treatments better understood, we should be able to establish a new normal at some point in 2021. There are myriad challenges, but the path is beginning to emerge.

Unemployment
Column Published in syndication May 13, 2020

The latest job loss numbers are tragic, but not unexpected considering the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control its spread. Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, with losses across all major sectors. The unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, a 10.3 percentage point increase over March. It's the highest rate and the largest increase in the history of the series and will likely get worse.

Jobs Snapshot
Column Published in syndication November 06, 2019

The US labor market is tight, with national unemployment rates well below the 4% level commonly considered "full employment." There is perhaps some modest slack, with millions unemployed and others working part-time when they'd rather be working full time. Nonetheless, there are ample signs that even this limited supply of potential workers is diminishing in most markets and industries.

Another Record
Column Published in syndication June 26, 2019

Texas hit a new all-time low rate of unemployment, dropping to 3.5% in May. This series dates back to 1976, meaning that unemployment in the state is currently lower than during the oil boom of the 1980s or any of the other growth periods over the past four decades. The national unemployment rate was 3.6% in May, which was little changed from a year prior. The unemployment rate is not the best measure of the economy (my poor students had to endure an hour on that topic back in the day), but it generates a lot of attention and patterns over time can be informative.

Slow and Steady
Column Published in syndication May 09, 2018

The US economic expansion is setting records right and left. What began as a "jobless recovery" is now making history for its duration, and, without a major shock, there's no obvious end in sight. The recovery wasn't impressive at the outset, but slow and steady is winning.