'Underlying Weaknesses' Mellow Jobs Report

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An economist at Ball State University says today's national jobs report includes "underlying weaknesses," tempering a slowly-improving labor market. Michael Hicks says wages remain stagnant and there is "not a great jobs mix," with most gains coming from the leisure and hospitality sector. The U.S. Department of Labor reports employment grew by 214,000 jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to its lowest level in years. Hicks adds, despite the improvements, Tuesday's mid-term election results speak to voters' continuing focus on economic policy. Election results include strong gains for Republicans in Congress, U.S. Senate, statewide offices and the General Assembly.

The national unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, the lowest since 2008. Indiana's currently stands at 5.7 percent.

November 7, 2014

News Release

MUNCIE, Ind. - Ball State economist Michael Hicks says today's jobs report continues the earlier trends of a slowly improving labor market accompanied by underlying weaknesses.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced this morning that employment grew by 214,000 jobs. The biggest job gains came in leisure and hospitality (24 percent), business and professional services (17 percent), retail (13 percent), health care and social assistance (13 percent), and manufacturing (13 percent).

"Employment continues to expand at a rate that would accommodate only new workers who should be entering the labor market," says Hicks, director of Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). "Wages are remarkably stagnant, and indicators of labor market stress continue through October.

"The number of people holding one or more jobs grew by 575,000, which is part of seasonal changes to employment. The spike in multiple job holders suggests a more muted holiday sales season than last year. Long-term levels of unemployment remain fixed, accounting for a third of all unemployed workers."

Hicks points out that the average hourly earnings remained stagnant and hourly wages, when adjusted for inflation, were flat, with declines in durable goods, trade, transportation and utilities, warehousing, and education and health services.

Hourly real wage growth topped more than a dime in mining and construction, information services and leisure and hospitality, he says.

Source: Ball State University