An important job statistic

Date posted: April 10, 2013

We’re bombarded daily by new economic statistics. Indeed, N.C. State University economist Mike Walden has been touting a sometimes overlooked jobs number that some say is signaling a positive outlook.

“It’s the length of the average workweek. And … what happens during a recession is, clearly, … a lot of people just outright lose their jobs, but also there are millions of people who keep their jobs, but they have their number of hours cut back. They may go from full-time to part-time. Then when the economic situation improves, what we often see happen is that businesses, rather than hiring new people, they begin to add hours on to the workweek of existing people.

“And the good news (is) that we’ve been seeing that happen over the last couple of years, and I think it’s actually one reason why we’ve had a slow rise in the number of people employed. So we’ve seen the average workweek expand. And right now … it is back to its pre-recessionary high.

“And what economists think this means is that businesses have just about done all they can do in terms of working their existing people more hours, and now in order to get more labor input, they’re going to have to add new jobs. And this is one reason why many economists are very optimistic about seeing improvements – big improvements – in the job market in upcoming months.”

 

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