We had a great report last week that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits has hit a 50-year low. Hopefully this will dial back recession talks. For the month of March we had a great jobs number. This number was a lot more encouraging than February’s number. There was one interesting point of emphasis that was raised off of correlation in the breakdown of jobs. Does better weather bring a better jobs number? One big indicator of this was construction. Even in our own community we’re seeing rain effect construction on large projects. In the north the snow has been the main obstacle. For March, we saw construction jobs come up a good bit for the month. However, one area we continue to see lagging in the jobs number is manufacturing.
You have to make sure that you’re looking below the numbers. In February and at the end of March, we actually had a drop in manufacturing, around 7,000 jobs. If you dig a little deeper you will notice that the vast majority was in the automotive industry which was directly impacted by China tariff talks. It seems that this could be an outlier for now, but is part of what is holding us back. While it’s come back up a little bit, we would like to see this area continue to grow with the rest. We saw some negative reports in the fourth quarter and are looking for the jobs report to continue in a consistent manner. If manufacturing jobs pick back up, we might just get that.
Looking forward from a standpoint of where manufacturing jobs could continue to grow is in the oil exploration and transportation industries. Oil, over the night, hit the 2019 highs of $70.62 per barrel for Brent and $63.00 per barrel for WTI, West Texas Intermediate. Also, we are now an oil exporter, so that that greatly benefits our manufacturing and export sectors. This could be an indication that global growth fears have, in a way, turned. You typically don’t see oil prices going up when the global economy is going into a recession. We saw that at the end of last year in that when oil prices fell, a lot of people were concerned we were going into a recession. It’s becoming quite clear and a large indication going forward that the markets could benefit from jobs, spending and production. Of course no guarantees here, but a lot of good, positive current and future indicators could eliminate recession talks. We think manufacturing jobs could continue to strengthen, which plays into this. Like we have said in the past, more jobs puts more money in the hands of the consumer and could play a part on putting money back into the economy, thus, helping it grow.
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