The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since February 2008, when the Great Recession was beginning. The U.S. Department of Labor released its monthly report on Nov. 4, which stated that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent. The only presidential election year that has seen a lower unemployment rate was in 2000, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were running. Back then, the unemployment rate stood at 3.9 percent. Other economic measures, like hourly wages and job opportunities, have also increased, which may indicate continually growing economic prospects. Hourly wages have increased by 2.8 percent, the highest in seven years, reaching an average of $25.92 an hour.
According to NPR, “Hourly earnings rose 10 cents over last month, a higher increase than anticipated.”
More than 161,000 jobs were added in October, as stated in a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts anticipated job growth to rise to 175,000, so this statistic fell short of the prediction.
Nevertheless, NPR states that “the report also revised upward the job growth for August and September. August had been pegged at 167,000 new jobs and is now at 176,000 while September had been reported as 156,000 and is now 191,000.”
Since 2010, a total of 15 million jobs have been created under Barack Obama’s presidency. Major cities such as Denver, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin saw their unemployment rates fall as low as 3 percent. Employers, however, have noticed trends that show decreasing workman quality. Businesses that pay $12 per hour are unable to attract more educated people who seek a higher wage.
These upward economic trends, along with the rise of the GDP, may lead the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in December as initially proposed.
NPR had its own speculation regarding the reasons behind this month’s job growth increase.
“The October jobs report may have been affected by Hurricane Matthew, which struck the East Coast during the pay period examined for the report,” NPR states. “That may have affected numbers for average weekly hours, which typically go down when extreme weather strikes. The October report showed the average workweek was unchanged at 34.4 hours.”
Over the past couple of years, jobs in service areas such as health care and financial services have received a major lift while industries such as manufacturing and agriculture have struggled to stay relevant. While manufacturing is the sector that boasts the greatest productive capacity, an issue may be forthcoming.
Despite the job availability, some people may still remain doubtful of the growing economy. While there is a correlation between better wages and more confident spending, a disparaging inequality gap between the middle and upper classes still exists. Higher wages urge employees to continue to work hard in order to gain benefits, but the significant gap may unwind the effects of the encouraging factors.
Additionally, mixed signals from the global economy and fears of a looming recession have kept U.S. citizens from putting their faith back into the system. Job security is also questioned, as up-and-coming industries make it harder for older workers to compete with younger workers for jobs.
During the presidential election, the topic of unemployment was only put in the spotlight a few times. Donald Trump, the current president-elect, did not provide any definite answers in response to probing questions about the need for a plan to tackle unemployment rate. However, his platform promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.