If you’ve got enough confidence in the economy to quit your job, then that’s a good sign, right? That’s how the analysts described the latest reports on jobs in America.
The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers advertised the most jobs in 14 years in January, another good sign in a long series of reports of new hiring.
Yet another big stat was the number of people quitting their jobs, up 3 percent to 2.8 million, the most in more than six years, the department said.
Obviously, if one is optimistic about getting a new job, that is a grass-roots measurement of confidence in an economy that has sputtered at times. Even as President Barack Obama has made the most politically of a long string of positive job reports — and those reflect real progress — the yo-yo effect of economic statistics has been considerable.
As the Labor Department was putting out its upbeat statistics, the Commerce Department was reporting that sales plunged for many businesses in January. Business stockpiles increased modestly — not a particularly good sign.
Overall, though, economists and the Federal Reserve remain pretty optimistic about the future. Part of that optimism, however, is rooted in a lower price of oil, and thus of fuel. That pads the pocketbooks of American families through lower prices at the pump. It’s also good for businesses, not least in congested cities where money flows out of the tailpipes of delivery vehicles.
Here in Louisiana, not such a good sign.
The U.S. rig count fell again, and companies in the oil patch are starting to reduce staff or benefits. Notices of potential layoffs coming to the Louisiana Workforce Commission suggest that job cuts are real from Covington to New Iberia and Lafayette. The oilfield services industry is sensitive to such a dramatic plunge in oil prices.
Louisiana’s job market now records the third-highest unemployment rate among the states, even as more jobs are added, according to Labor’s report. That reflects good and bad trends, but the upside is that more people are now seeking work.
All this is only a part of the national economy that the Federal Reserve’s policymaking committee looked at this week. Still, it’s the part of the national economy that is very close to home, and Louisiana remains an energy state, which means when the yo-yo is dipping down, it can be really down.