Opinion: People Are Worrying the Labor Market Is Too Good

The American labor market has improved so much that people are beginning to worry it’s too favorable to workers. A television interviewer asked me recently if the current shortage of truck drivers would drive up wages, increase shipping costs, and raise the cost of goods. It was refreshing to discuss the surplus of openings for good jobs, after years of focusing on their lack. A Gallup poll in May found that 67% of Americans believe “now is a good time to find a quality job.” That’s the highest percentage in the 17 years the pollster has been asking that question. That peak owes in part to politics: 82% of Republicans answered yes, but so did 53% of Democrats—many of whom no doubt credit President Obama’s economic policies.

Yet other recent polling indicates the optimism is based on more than politics. A CNN poll in May found that 57% of Americans, including 40% of Democrats, “say things are going well in the U.S. today.” A June NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that of the 71% of Americans who believe the economy is improving, 62% credit President Trump, and a June CNBC poll found that 54% of Americans (including 30% of Democrats) say the economy is “good or excellent,” the highest percentage in the 10 years of the survey.

While we are only 18 months into the Trump administration, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also back up these perceptions. In June the number of people working full-time jobs was a record high 129 million, while the number of people working part-time jobs because they couldn’t find full-time employment was below 4.7 million.

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This article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal on July 16, 2018

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