Job figures and politics

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Good afternoon,

The Delaware Department of Labor earlier this month warned that figures showing growth of 10,000 jobs in 2018 could be revised downward

The department’s labor market economists have been seeing payroll figures that do not reflect a gain of that magnitude. Job figures we see in monthly reports start out as estimates and are later revised when the more solid payroll figures from employers are submitted. The final revisions are expected in March.

In recent years,preliminary figures often showed anemic job growth, with later revisions indicating gains that were better but nothing to brag about. (See accompanying graph).

Critics in the General Assembly and elsewhere would seize on the sluggish job figures as evidence that decades of Democratic rule were ruining the state. Democrats pointed to steady growth in employment.

One job laggard was retailing, which showed losses in preliminary reports, even at a time when stores were opening left and right in a few areas.

The figures led to the narrative that Amazon was running stores out of business. In the end, revised job figures indicated that the state’s sales tax-free status temporarilytrumped online retailing pressures. Conditions may have changed in 2018 as Sears-Kmart closed stores in Delaware.

This time around, expect to see a mixture of commentary with past critics crediting the federal tax cuts for stronger job growth.

If the job figures are revised downward, Dems will blame the tax cut for leading to a “sugar rush” of activity followed by a slide in the stock market as economic prospects dimmed and uncertainty grows over trade policies and tariffs.

Once you get past the noise; the reality of the situation is that Delaware is approaching full employment.

The problem is the quality of jobs and the fact that many people are making ends meet with side hustles with no benefits and schedules that are not good for family life.

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