Over the past six months, the labor market has strengthened steadily, with employers adding jobs at a healthy pace. But the unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, near its lowest levels in nearly 17 years. And this remarkable boost in job creation has come despite some broad economic headwinds. The stock market is not as robust as it was during the Obama years. Energy prices are low, potentially undermining the consumer spending that has kept the economy strong.
A recent examination of the health of workers show that U.S. workers have benefited from the business boost during the Trump administration, but at what cost to the country’s long-term prospects?
In response to questions from Reuters, an independent company that monitors federal job openings, IHS Markit ranked each state in four categories based on the number of full-time workers who stayed in their jobs, a measure of job security that is taken seriously.
In all of these categories, meaning-fulfilling employment is up from last year, suggesting that job security could be improving.
North Dakota had the lowest percentage change in quality of employment between last year and this year.
At the same time, through the first five months of Trump’s first term, workers in all but seven states have seen declines in their mean expected years of employment.
Still, the resulting upward trend is overwhelmingly positive.
During the Obama presidency, job seekers faced a 20 percent decline in mean expected years of employment in the same seven states, which are Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska.
The new trends do not necessarily mean the economy is weakening, according to Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, but “it does tell you that the current environment is not as good as it used to be.”
Stephen Jen, a currency strategist at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said, “when you see some of these data lines moving in the right direction, it implies to some extent that companies are growing and hiring, but it is not absolutely clear they are growing at a pace that could bring in what may otherwise be necessary to replenish the labor pool.”
Experts are particularly concerned about the unemployment rate, which they expect will return to pre-recession levels over the next few years.