Today's unemployment claims number was impressive, unemployment claims have been hovering near ALL TIME LOWS for many months. That is amazing, when you consider that the number of people working today is so much higher than 20 or 30 years ago - yet we are still having far fewer people losing their jobs due to layoffs than at any time in our country's history.
Now, I know the response of many is to say "Yeah, but those aren't good jobs..." or something like that. And for a period of time after the financial crisis it was true that companies were hiring part time workers, etc. to try to limit the cost. Part of that may also have been a reaction to health care mandates from the Affordable Care Act. But according to data recently published by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, there has been substantial improvement in the quality of jobs over the last 4 years. See the infographic here: https://www.ebri.org/docs/default-source/infographics/35_ig-covtrends-22aug19.pdf?sfvrsn=466e3c2f_4
Briefly, the EBRI found that in 2018, compared to 2014:
- 78% of employees were eligible for health benefits, vs. 75.4%
- The percentage of workers employeed full time vs. part time increased substantially
- The % of firms with a majority of workers classified as "low wage" declined from 29% to 22%.
As the rest of the world economy slows, and with it business spending and manufacturing - it is the strong consumer that is increasingly driving economic activity in the United States. And this data shows in part why the consumer is so resilient.