Tightening in Labor Markets Evident in Latest Economic Reports
Federal Reserve Districts reported tightening in labor markets in the most recent report from the Fed’s beige book, meaning that the number of jobs opening during September and early October exceeded the number of qualified candidates available. Moderate wage increases have also been reported, with several districts noting more intense upward pressure in service industries and for skilled positions in a variety of industry sectors.
The unemployment rate rose to 5.1% in September, as reported by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Much of that increase has been attributed to Hurricane Katrina’s overall effects in the Gulf Coast region.
Increases in employment in selected sectors are noted below (information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site: http://www.bls.gov/):
– In September, manufacturing employment was down by 27,000 and has declined by 118,000 over the year.
– Employment in transit and ground passenger transportation declined by 8,000 in September. Air transportation lost 6,000 jobs over the month; about half of the job loss was due to strike activity in the industry. Truck trans- portation employment was flat in September and has shown little change since June.
– Professional and business services employment rose by 52,000 in September. More than half of the employment increase was in temporary help services (32,000), where hurricane recovery efforts may have boosted hiring.
– Health care employment continued to grow in September, rising by 37,000.
-Construction employment rose by 23,000 in September, about in line with the industry’s average monthly gain over the past year.