Better Economic News

This morning’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed employers added 255,000 jobs in June, growth that was almost 50% higher than expected. Adding to the good news was an upward revision of the June growth to 292,000 and May’s to 24,000 from 11,000. BLS also reported that 400,000 more people joined the workforce, which left the unemployment rate at 4.9%. Wages maintained the 2.6% growth rate year-over-year.

BAsed on the July estimate, the U.S. economy added an average of 182,000 jobs per month through the first seven months of 2016 and 202,000 monthly since July 2015.

The growth of jobs doesn’t immediately jibe with the fact that GDP growth seems stuck below 2% over the past six to nine months; however, when you consider that productivity growth has actually fallen during that time, the added payrolls make sense. During recessions people work more hours for the same pay, either out of fear for their jobs or because their employer cuts staff. Productivity drops as the economy recovers, especially as oppoprtunities to leave overworked positions arise.

All this is good news if you are an employee, especially when you consider that wages are probably still on a rising trajectory. The dark cloud in that silver lining is the reality that upward wage pressure – espeially when significant numbers of unemployed are rejoining the workforce – signals the end of slack in the economy. Recessions don’t necessarily follow these kinds of developments but a recovery like this one is getting long in the tooth.

Construction news is slow in August and this year is no exception. Nonresidential starts topped $2.8 billion through July and the forecast of $3.4 billion for the full year looks conservative at this point. Westmoreland Community College selected Turner Construction as CM-Agent for its $42 million campus expansion program. In a surprising move, Carnegie Mellon pulled the plug – at least for now – on its 425,000 square foot Gateway Project.


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