Friday’s jobs report was one of the best in a long time. There were 313,000 new jobs added to the economy. But more important were increasing signs that people who’ve been out of the labor force are reconnecting to work. As reported by the NYT:
The number of adults not in the labor force fell by a whopping 653,000 people, as the participation rate — the proportion of adults who either have a job or are looking for one — rose a healthy 0.3 percent to 63 percent. The proportion of people in their prime working years (25 to 54) who are working is at its highest level since 2008.
This is great news. The Wall Street Journal supplies an anecdote that gives an example of what’s happening behind the numbers.
Jaraun “Gemini” Boyd offers a window into the broad forces reshaping the jobs market as the expansion advances. As workers become scarcer, employers are looking further and wider for talent. That includes tapping a pool of former prisoners.
Mr. Boyd spent nearly two decades in federal prison on drug-related charges. After training to become a commercial-truck driver, the 43-year old rejoined the ranks of workers late last year, landing a job driving a garbage truck for the city of Charlotte, N.C.
“I was no saint,” Mr. Boyd said in a telephone interview. He initially received little help finding a job. “After prison you need a second chance—but if you have a record you can’t get a job, you can’t get housing assistance, you see why people turn back to crime.”
He landed the truck-driving training through the Charlotte Works Workforce Development Board. That “opened a door for me,” said Mr. Boyd. “It’s just a first step.” He wants to start a nonprofit working with at-risk youth.
The plural of anecdote isn’t data, and this case notably involves public sector employment. But the numbers are encouraging.
I see a tight labor market as a good thing in the present environment. It is forcing employers to take a chance on people like ex-offenders or the long term unemployed, who would otherwise be invisible. I’ve noted before examples of “green shoots” in this regard. Let’s just hope it keeps up. Long term unemployment is disastrous on a whole host of metrics. So I worry about the large number of people who fall into that category more than I do the risk of inflation at this point.