Sun, April 21, 2024

Simon Says: More jobs, but are they the right kind to grow the LMI?

The employment level in the Augusta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) rose for the fourth consecutive month in July. It now stands at 244,700, up from 241,600 in March. However, it continues to remain below pre-pandemic levels.

The unemployment rate has inched up this year from 3.5% in January to 3.8% in July. The rise in unemployment coupled with a rise in employment can be explained by an increase in the labor force. The labor force has increased for six consecutive months, adding over 2,400 workers or potential workers to the local economy.

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Average weekly earnings and average hours worked have generally declined over the last six months, although there is a lot of month-to-month variation. The rising employment levels along with declining hours and earnings suggest many new jobs are part-time.

Putting all these labor market indicators into the Augusta Labor Market Index results in a monthly increase of just 0.03 percent. This small improvement was foreshadowed by the previously reported increase in the Augusta Leading Economic Index which has been improving, but at a decreasing rate, for five consecutive months. As I reported a couple of weeks ago, advanced July data for the LEI suggest that the index will turn negative when job openings data is released later today.

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