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.
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.
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.
The Texas unemployment rate is now higher than the national rate. Should we be concerned? The short answer is "no," and here are six reasons why.