Payrolls were up 280,000 last month in a better-than-expected jobs report, with employers adding jobs across almost all of the service industries and government. Positive revisions for April and May added another 32,000 to the payroll count. Analysts had been expecting around 225K jobs, so put May's initial print in the "upside surprise" column. The jobless rate ticked up slightly from 5.4 to 5.5 percent but for the right reason: more people joining the labor force. Average hourly wages were up 2.3 percent over the past year, a touch faster than in past months. All told, what I see in these numbers is a job market maybe, sorta, kinda starting to reach working people... six years into the recovery! So my message to the Fed: love it and leave it alone!
Robots have indeed eliminated a great deal of factory work and are rapidly moving on to product design, medical diagnostics, research, teaching, accounting, translating, copy editing, and a great deal more. Once-secure professions are no longer safe. From that, many economists conclude that we may just have to adjust to a high plateau of unemployment. That assumption is malarkey.
President Obama recently downplayed the impact of unfair trade on the U.S. workforce, arguing that many manufacturing jobs are low-paying. But I disagree. This nation's manufacturing base provides a pathway to prosperity for many Americans -- and this administration cannot shut the door on their future.
Manufacturers that intend to be competitive and profitable in the years ahead will have to take aggressive action. They cannot afford to wait for the public schools to do it for them. They must foster internal training programs and become directly involved with local high schools, trade schools and community colleges to create a reliable stream of qualified candidates.