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    What Will Happen to Black Workers’ Gains if There’s a Recession?

    Black unemployment fell quickly after the initial pandemic downturn. But as the Federal Reserve fights inflation, those gains could be eroded.Black Americans have been hired much more rapidly in the wake of the pandemic shutdowns than after previous recessions. But as the Federal Reserve tries to soften the labor market in a bid to tame inflation, economists worry that Black workers will bear the brunt of a slowdown — and that without federal aid to cushion the blow, the impact could be severe.Some 3.5 million Black workers lost or left their jobs in March and April 2020. In weeks, the unemployment rate for Black workers soared to 16.8 percent, the same as the peak after the 2008 financial crisis, while the rate for white workers topped out at 14.1 percent.Since then, the U.S. economy has experienced one of its fastest rebounds ever, one that has extended to workers of all races. The Black unemployment rate was 6 percent last month, just above the record low of late 2019. And in government data collected since the 1990s, wages for Black workers are rising at their fastest pace ever.Now policymakers at the Fed and in the White House face the challenge of fighting inflation without inducing a recession that would erode or reverse those workplace gains.Decades of research has found that workers from racial and ethnic minorities — along with those with other barriers to employment, such as disabilities, criminal records or low levels of education — are among the first laid off during a downturn and the last hired during a recovery.William Darity Jr., a Duke University professor who has studied racial gaps in employment, says the problem is that the only reliable tool the Fed uses to fight inflation — increasing interest rates — works in part by causing unemployment. Higher borrowing costs make consumers less likely to spend and employers less likely to invest, reducing pressure on prices. But that also reduces demand for workers, pushing joblessness up and wages down.“I don’t know that there’s any existing policy option that’s plausible that would not result in hurting some significant portion of the population,” Mr. Darity said. “Whether it’s inflation or it’s rising unemployment, there’s a disproportionate impact on Black workers.”In a paper published last month, Lawrence H. Summers, a former Treasury secretary and top economic adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, asserted with his co-authors that the Fed would need to allow the overall unemployment rate to rise to 5 percent or above — it is now 3.5 percent — to bring inflation under control. Since Black unemployment is typically about double that of white workers, that suggests that the rate for Black workers would approach or reach double digits.In an interview, Mr. Summers said that outcome would be regrettable and, to some extent, unavoidable.“But the alternative,” Mr. Summers argued — “simply pretending” the U.S. labor market can remain this hot — “is setting the stage for the mistakes we made in the 1970s, and ultimately for a far larger recession, to contain inflation.”The State of Jobs in the United StatesEmployment gains in July, which far surpassed expectations, show that the labor market is not slowing despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy.July Jobs Report: U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in the seventh month of the year. The unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, down from 3.6 percent in June.Slow Wage Growth: Pay has been rising rapidly for workers at the top and the bottom. But things haven’t been so positive for all professions — especially for pharmacists.Care Worker Shortages: A lack of child care and elder care options is forcing some women to limit their hours or has sidelined them altogether, hurting their career prospects.Downsides of a Hot Market: Students are forgoing degrees in favor of the attractive positions offered by employers desperate to hire. That could come back to haunt them.“These arguments have nothing to do with how much you care about unemployment, or how much you care about the unemployment of disadvantaged groups,” he continued. “They only have to do with technical judgment.”Many progressive economists have been sharply critical of that view, arguing that Black workers should not be the collateral damage in a war on inflation. William Spriggs, an economist at Howard University, cautioned against overstating the Fed’s ability to bring inflation under control — especially when inflation is being driven in part by global forces — and underestimating the potential damage from driving interest rates much higher.Black workers will suffer first under a Fed-induced recession, Mr. Spriggs said. When that happens, he added, job losses across the board tend to follow. “And so you pay attention, because that’s the canary in the coal mine,” he said.In a June 2020 essay in The Washington Post and an accompanying research paper, Jared Bernstein — now a top economic adviser to President Biden — laid out the increasingly popular argument that in light of this, the Fed “should consider targeting not the overall unemployment rate, but the Black rate.”Fed policy, he added, implicitly treats 4 percent unemployment as a long-term goal, but “because Black unemployment is two times the overall rate, targeting 4 percent for the overall economy means targeting 8 percent for blacks.”The Fed didn’t take Mr. Bernstein’s advice. But in the years leading up to the pandemic, Fed policymakers increasingly talked about the benefits of a strong labor market for racial and ethnic minorities, and cited it as a factor in their policy decisions.After Mr. Biden took office, he and his economic advisers pushed for a large government spending bill — which became the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan — in part on the grounds that it would avoid the painful slog that job seekers, particularly nonwhite workers, faced after the 2007-9 recession and would instead deliver a supercharged recovery.Federal pandemic relief provided a cushion for Ms. Jordan, at her home near Atlanta with her husband and children. Rita Harper for The New York Times“It’s been faster, more robust for African Americans than any other post-recessionary periods since at least the 1970s,” Cecilia Rouse, the chair of Mr. Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview. Black workers are receiving faster wage gains than other racial and ethnic groups, and have taken advantage of the strong job market to move into higher-paying industries and occupations, according to an analysis of government data by White House economists shared with The New York Times.Menyuan Jordan is among them. Ms. Jordan, who has a master’s degree in social work and was making a living training child care providers in February 2020, saw her livelihood upended when Covid-19 struck.“The money was based off face-to-face professional development that went to zero almost immediately overnight,” she said. “I couldn’t afford the rent.”But pandemic relief packages from the federal government helped cushion the blow of lost earnings. And by last winter, Ms. Jordan had landed a job as a mental health clinician near her home in Atlanta — one that offered training and paid roughly $13,000 more than her prepandemic role, which she estimates brought in $42,000 annually.Administration officials say they are optimistic that Black workers can continue to see higher wages and improving job opportunities even if the labor market cools. But Goldman Sachs analysts, echoing a common view, recently concluded that average wage gains for workers would need to fall much further to be consistent with the Fed’s inflation goals.Fed policymakers are still somewhat hopeful that they can bring down inflation without causing a recession or undoing the gains of the past two years, in part because of a hope that the labor market can slow down mainly through reductions in job openings rather than layoffs.Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, has made the case that only by bringing inflation under control can the central bank create a sustainably strong labor market that will benefit all workers.“We all want to get back to the kind of labor market we had before the pandemic,” Mr. Powell said in a news conference last month. “That’s not going to happen without restoring price stability.”Some voices in finance are calling for smaller and fewer rate increases, worried that the Fed is underestimating the ultimate impact of its actions to date. David Kelly, the chief global strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management, believes that inflation is set to fall considerably anyway — and that the central bank should exhibit greater patience, as remnants of pandemic government stimulus begin to vanish and household savings further dwindle.“The economy is basically treading water right now,” Mr. Kelly said, adding that officials “don’t need to put us into a recession just to show how tough they are on inflation.”Michelle Holder, a labor economist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, similarly warned against the “statistical fatalism” that halting labor gains is the only way forward. Still, she said, she’s fully aware that under current policy, trade-offs between inflation and job creation are likely to endure, disproportionately hurting Black workers. Interest rate increases, she said, are the Fed’s primary tool — its hammer — and “a hammer sees everything as a nail.”Reflecting on a dinner she recently attended in Washington with “really high-level, all-white progressive economists,” Ms. Holder, who is Black, said there was a “resigned attitude” among many of her peers, who want positive near-term outcomes for people of color overall but remain “wedded to the use of mainstream tools” and ask, “What else can we do?”Mr. Darity, the Duke professor, argued that one solution would be policies that helped insulate workers from an economic downturn, like having the federal government guarantee a job to anyone who wants one. Some economists support less ambitious policies, such as expanded benefits to help people who lose jobs in a recession. But there is little prospect that Congress would adopt either approach, or come to the rescue again with large relief checks — especially given criticism from many Republicans, and some high-profile Democrats, that excessive aid in the pandemic contributed to inflation today.“The tragedy will be that our administration won’t be able to help the families or individuals that need it if another recession happens,” Ms. Holder said.Morgani Brown, 24, lives and works in Charlotte, N.C., and has experienced the modest yet meaningful improvements in job quality that many Black workers have since the initial pandemic recession. She left an aircraft cleaning job with Jetstream Ground Services at Charlotte Douglas International Airport last year because the $10-an-hour pay was underwhelming. But six months ago, the work had become more attractive.Morgani Brown returned to an employer she had left in Charlotte, N.C., when the hourly pay rose. Damola Akintunde for The New York Times“I’d seen that they were paying more, at $14,” she said, “so I went and applied for Jetstream again.” She remains frustrated with some work conditions, but said the situation had “ended up being better.”With rents rising, she saves money rooming with her boyfriend and another friend, both of whom work at an Amazon fulfillment center. Ms. Brown, who has a baby on the way, is aware that the e-commerce giant has recently cut back its work force. (An Amazon official noted on a recent earnings call that the company had “quickly transitioned from being understaffed to being overstaffed.”)Ms. Brown said she and her roommates hoped that their jobs could weather any downturn. But she has begun hearing more rumblings about people she knows being fired or laid off.“I’m not sure exactly why,” she said. More

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    With Surge in July, U.S. Recovers the Jobs Lost in the Pandemic

    U.S. job growth accelerated in July across nearly all industries, restoring nationwide employment to its prepandemic level, despite widespread expectations of a slowdown as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to fight inflation.Employers added 528,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said on Friday, more than doubling what forecasters had projected. The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5 percent, equaling the figure in February 2020, which was a 50-year low.The robust job growth is welcome news for the Biden administration in a year when red-hot inflation and fears of recession have been recurring economic themes. “Today’s jobs report shows we are making significant progress for working families,” President Biden declared.The labor market’s continued strength is all the more striking as gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, has declined for two consecutive quarters and as consumer sentiment about the economy has fallen sharply — along with the president’s approval ratings.“I’ve never seen a disjunction between the data and the general vibe quite as large as I saw,” said Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist, noting that employment growth is an economic North Star. “It is worth emphasizing that when you try to take the pulse of the overall economy, these data are much more reliable than G.D.P.”But the report could stiffen the Federal Reserve’s resolve to cool the economy. Wage growth sped up, to 5.2 percent over the past year, indicating that labor costs could add fuel to higher prices.The Fed has raised interest rates four times in its battle to curb the steepest inflation in four decades, and policymakers have signaled that more increases are in store. That strategy is likely to lead to a slowdown in hiring later in the year as companies cut payrolls to match expected lower demand.Already, surveys of restaurateurs, home builders and manufacturers have reflected concern that current spending will not continue. Initial claims for unemployment insurance have been creeping up, and job openings have fallen for three consecutive months.“At this stage, things are OK,” said James Knightley, the chief international economist at the bank ING. “Say, December or the early part of next year, that’s where we could see much softer numbers.”Payrolls have fully recovered the jobs lost in the pandemic.Cumulative change in jobs since before the pandemic More

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    U.S. jobs report shows a gain of 528,000 in July.

    U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said on Friday, again outstripping expectations for a labor market that is still rebounding from the pandemic but that has come under increasing pressure from inflation as well as from escalating interest rates meant to rein in prices.The impressive performance — which brings the total employment back to its level of February 2020, just before the pandemic lockdowns — indicates that a slowdown in some industries has not been enough to drag down overall hiring. And it provides new evidence that the United States has not entered a recession.But most forecasters expect that momentum to slow markedly later in the year, as companies cut payrolls to match lower demand.“At this stage, things are OK,” said James Knightley, the chief international economist at the bank ING. “Say, December or the early part of next year, that’s where we could see much softer numbers.”The unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, down from 3.6 percent in June, matching its 50-year low on the eve of the pandemic.Last week, the government reported that the nation’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, had contracted for the second consecutive quarter when adjusted for inflation. The data showed a sharp decline in home building, a slackening of business investment and a sluggish rise in consumer spending.Those trends are bound to affect the labor market overall, even if not uniformly or immediately.Amy Glaser, a senior vice president at the global staffing agency Adecco, said her firm was still struggling to fill hourly jobs, especially in retail and logistics. Employers may not have made those positions attractive enough, and, increasingly, may do without them.“I think we do have a gap in the jobs that are available and the desire to do those jobs,” Ms. Glaser said. “We know there are tens of thousands of warehouse jobs out there, but standing on your feet for 10 hours a day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.” More

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    Job Openings Fell in June, Suggesting That the Labor Market Is Cooling

    The number of job openings fell for the third consecutive month in June, a sign that the red-hot U.S. labor market may be starting to cool off.Employers posted 10.7 million vacant positions on the last day of June, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That is high by historical standards but a sharp drop from the 11.3 million openings in May and the record 11.9 million in March. It was the largest one-month decline in the two decades that the government has kept track of this data, other than the two months at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.Job openings are falling, but remain highMonthly U.S. job openings, seasonally adjusted

    Source: Bureau of Labor StatisticsBy The New York TimesThe drop was concentrated in retail, the latest sign that the sector is struggling as consumers shift their spending from goods back to services as the pandemic ebbs. But job postings have also fallen in leisure and hospitality, the sector that was the most strained by labor shortages last year.The job market remains strong by most measures. There were still nearly twice as many job openings as unemployed workers in June, and employers are raising pay and offering other incentives to attract and retain staff. Layoffs remained near a record low in June, suggesting that employers were reluctant to part with staff they worked so hard to hire. And the number of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs remains high, although it has fallen from last year’s peak.The recent decline in openings is likely to be encouraging news for policymakers at the Federal Reserve, who have been trying to slow down the economy in an effort to tame inflation. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, and other officials have pointed to the number of vacant jobs as evidence that the labor market is too hot. They are hoping that employers will start posting fewer jobs and hiring fewer workers before they begin laying people off, allowing the job market to cool down without causing a spike in unemployment.Still, any slowdown in the job market will mean that workers have less leverage to demand raises when pay is already failing to keep up with inflation. Slower wage growth, in turn, could lead consumers to spend less, increasing the risk that the United States could slip into a recession.The labor market “is definitely losing momentum, and that’s what is chipping away at people’s ability to spend,” said Tim Quinlan, a senior economist for Wells Fargo.Economists and policymakers will get a more up-to-date picture of the job market on Friday, when the Labor Department releases data on hiring and unemployment in July. Forecasters surveyed by FactSet expect the report to show that employers added about 250,000 jobs last month, down from 372,000 in June. More

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    U.S. Economy Added 372,000 Jobs in June, Defying Slowdown Fears

    The strong Labor Department report comes as consumers and businesses express increasing concern about a downturn.The U.S. economy powered through June with broad-based hiring on par with recent months, keeping the country clear of recession territory even as inflation eats into wages and interest rates continue to rise. Employers added 372,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday, and the unemployment rate, at 3.6 percent, was unchanged from May and near a 50-year low. Washington and Wall Street had keenly awaited the new data after a series of weaker economic indicators. The June job growth exceeded economists’ forecasts by roughly 100,000, offering some reassurance that a sharper downturn isn’t underway — at least not yet. But the strength of the report, which also showed bigger wage gains than expected, could give the Federal Reserve more leeway for tough medicine to beat back inflation. Now, all eyes will be watching whether the Fed’s strategy of raising interest rates pushes the country into a recession that inflicts harsh pain. Employment growth over the last three months averaged 375,000, a solid showing though a drop from a monthly pace of 539,000 in the first quarter of this year. Employers have continued to hang on to workers in recent months, with initial unemployment claims rising only slightly from their low point in March.The private sector has now regained its prepandemic employment level — an achievement trumpeted by the White House on Friday — though the level is still below what would have been expected absent the pandemic. Other than the public sector, no broad industry lost jobs in June, on a seasonally adjusted basis.“We’ve essentially ground our way back to where we were pre-Covid,” said Christian Lundblad, a professor of finance at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. “So, this doesn’t necessarily look like a dire situation, despite the fact that we’re struggling with inflation and economic declines in some other dimensions.”Strong demand for workers is also evident in the 11.3 million jobs that employers had open in May, a number that remains close to record highs and leaves nearly two jobs available for every person looking for work. In this equation, any workers laid off as certain sectors come under strain are more likely to find new jobs quickly. The Labor Department’s broadest measure of labor force underutilization — which includes part-time workers who want more hours and people who have been discouraged from job hunting — sank to its lowest rate since the household survey took its current form in 1994, a sign that employers are maximizing their existing work force as hiring remains difficult. The education and health sector gained the most jobs in June.Change in jobs, by sector More

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    The Potential Dark Side of a White-Hot Labor Market

    The strong job market may be about to take a turn for the worse. That could come to haunt those who made choices based on today’s conditions.Shanna Jackson, the president of Nashville State Community College, is struggling with a dilemma that reads like good news: Her students are taking jobs from employers who are eager to hire, and paying them good wages.The problem is that students often drop their plans to earn a degree in order to take the attractive positions offered by these desperate employers. Ms. Jackson is worried that when the labor market cools — a near certainty as the Federal Reserve Board raises interest rates, slowing the economy in an attempt to control rapid inflation — an incomplete education will come back to haunt these students.“If you’ve got housing costs rising, gas prices going up, food prices going up, the short-term decision is: Let me make money now, and I’ll go back to school later,” Ms. Jackson said. Anecdotally, she said, the issue is most intense in hospitality-related training programs, where credentials are often valued but not technically required.Strong labor markets often encourage people to forgo training, but this economic moment poses unusually difficult trade-offs for students with families or other financial responsibilities. Cutting working hours to go to class right now means passing up the benefits of strong wage growth at a moment of soaring fuel, food and housing costs.Taking advantage of the plentiful job opportunities available now could come with upsides — employment can build résumés and provide people with valuable experience and skills. But labor economists say that deciding to skip school and training today could come at a cost down the road. Research consistently suggests that people with degrees and skills training earn more and have more job stability in the longer run.“It’s really great to have income, but you also want to keep your eye on the future,” Mary C. Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said in an interview last week. “Workers with higher skills will have higher wages and more upside potential.”Ms. Daly speaks from personal experience. She herself dropped out of high school at age 15 to earn money. She eventually earned her graduation equivalency and enrolled in a semester of classes at a local college, but had to work three part-time jobs — at a Target, a doughnut shop and a deli — to support herself while she studied. She went on to pursue a degree full time and later earned a Ph.D. in economics.“That hard work was the best choice I have ever made,” she said. Drawing on her own experience and on the data she parses as a labor economist, she often urges young people to stay in training to improve their own future opportunities, even if they have to balance it with work.“The jobs that are hot right now — restaurants, warehousing — these are things that won’t last forever,” Ms. Daly said.Many sectors are, unquestionably, booming. Today’s labor market has 1.9 open jobs for every available worker and the fastest wage growth for rank-and-file workers since the early 1980s. That’s especially true for lower-wage occupations in fields such as leisure and hospitality.The State of Jobs in the United StatesJob gains continue to maintain their impressive run, even as government policymakers took steps to cool the economy and ease inflation.May Jobs Report: U.S. employers added 390,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.6 percent ​​in the fifth month of 2022.Slowing Down: Economists and policymakers are beginning to argue that what the economy needs right now is less hiring and less wage growth. Here’s why.Opportunities for Teenagers: Jobs for high school and college students are expected to be plentiful this summer, and a large market means better pay.Higher Interest Rates: Spurred by red-hot inflation, the Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates. What does that mean for the job market?Against that backdrop, fewer students are opting to continue their education. The latest enrollment figures, released in May by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, showed that 662,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs this spring than had a year earlier, a decline of 4.7 percent.Community college enrollment is also way down, having fallen by 827,000 students since the start of the pandemic. The decline is likely partly demographic, and partly a result of choices made during the pandemic.The shift to online learning was challenging for many students, and, just as schools were allowing students back into the classroom, the job market heated up and opportunities suddenly abounded. Inflation began to ratchet up at the same time, making earning money more critical as the cost of rent, gas and food climbed. That confluence of factors is likely keeping many students from continuing to pursue their education.Gabby Calvo, 18, left the business administration program at Nashville State this year. She said she did not know what she wanted to do with the degree, and had begun making good money, $21 an hour, as a front-end manager at a Kroger grocery store. The job was an unusual one for someone her age to land.“They didn’t really have anyone, so they took a chance on me,” she said, explaining that nobody else stood ready to fill the position and she had worked closely with the person who held it previously.Teenagers are often finding they can land positions they might not have otherwise as companies stretch to find talent, and teenage unemployment is now hovering near the lowest level since the 1950s.Ms. Calvo is hoping to work her way up to the assistant store-manager level, which would put her in a salaried position, and thinks she has made the prudent choice in leaving school, even if her parents disagree.“They think it’s a bad idea — they think I should have quit working, gone to college,” she said. But she has made enough money to put her name on a lease, which she recently signed along with her boyfriend, who is 19 and works at the restaurant in a local Nordstrom.“I feel like I have a lot of experience, and I have a lot more to gain,” Ms. Calvo said.The question, then, is how people like Ms. Calvo will fare in a weaker labor market, because today’s remarkable economic strength is unlikely to continue.The Fed is raising rates in a bid to slow down consumer demand, which would in turn cool down job and wage growth. Monetary policy is a blunt instrument: There is a risk that the central bank will end up pushing unemployment higher, and even touch off a recession, as it tries to bring today’s rapid inflation under control.That could be bad news for people without credentials or degrees. Historically, workers with less education and those who have been hired more recently are the ones to lose their jobs when unemployment rises and the economy weakens. At the onset of the pandemic, to consider an extreme example, unemployment for adults with a high school education jumped to 17.6 percent, while that for the college educated peaked at 8.4 percent.The same people benefiting from unusual opportunities and rapid pay gains today could be the ones to suffer in a downturn. That is one reason economists and educators like Ms. Jackson often urge people to continue their training.“We worry about their long-term futures, if this derails them from ever going to college, for a $17 to $19 Target job. That’s a loss,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, an associate professor at Northeastern University who researches labor economics and youth development. Still, Ms. Sasser Modestino said that taking high-paying jobs today and pursuing training later did not have to be mutually exclusive. Some people are getting jobs at places that offer tuition assistance while others can work and study at the same time.Other students, like Ms. Calvo, might use the time to figure out what they want to do with their futures in ways that will leave them better off in the long run.Plus, the economy could be shifting in ways that continue to keep workers in high demand. Baby boomers continue to age, and immigration has declined sharply during the pandemic, which could leave employers scrambling for employees for years. If that happens, degrees and certificates — labor market currency for much of the past two decades — may prove less essential.Luemettrea Williams, who holds down three jobs in order to pay her tuition and other bills, at her job in a doctor’s office in Nashville in May.Laura Thompson for The New York Times“There comes a point at which there are so few high school graduates to play with that you have to give your pool cleaner a raise,” said Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Plus, Mr. Carnevale said, economic policies coming out of Washington could add to the need for high-school-educated workers for a time. President Biden’s infrastructure bill, passed last year, is expected to create jobs in construction and other fields as it directs investment toward bridge rebuilding and airport and port upgrades.“We’re about to go through an era when you don’t need to go through college. That’s going to be a popular story,” he said.Even before the pandemic, people were increasingly questioning the value of a college education. Many people do not complete their degree or certificate programs, leaving them without improved job prospects and often crushing student loan burdens. And higher education alone is not a panacea: Some certificates and qualifications confer much greater labor market benefits, while others offer a smaller wage premium.But data and research continue to suggest that staying in school benefits workers over the long run. Unemployment is consistently lower for people with college degrees, and wages increase notably as education levels climb. The typical worker with only a high school diploma earned $809 a week in 2021, while one with a bachelor’s degree earned $1,334.“The high school job market has been declining since 1983,” Mr. Carnevale said. His research has shown that after the early 1980s, degree holders began to widen their lifetime earnings advantage.The economic resiliency that comes with education is what Luemettrea Williams is banking on. Ms. Williams, 34, has recently transferred to Nashville State as a nursing student.She had been working for years as a medical assistant in a doctor’s office, but got the job because she already knew the doctor; she did not have the relevant credential. Early in the pandemic, the doctor asked her what she would do if he retired, and she realized it was time to return to school. She is working three jobs to pay her tuition, along with her rising gas and grocery bills. She and her 9-year-old daughter have moved in with her aunt, but Ms. Williams is confident she’ll end up with a sturdy career at the end of her two-year program.“That is No. 1: being able to have a stable income where I don’t have to work three jobs to make ends meet,” Ms. Williams said. “I just have to get through these two years, and my life will change.” More

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    Hiring Remains Strong Even as Fed Tries to Cool Economy

    The Labor Department reported 390,000 new jobs in May, as policymakers try to ease inflation without inducing a recession.American employers extended an impressive run of hiring in May, even as policymakers took steps to cool the economy in an effort to ease high inflation.The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 390,000 jobs, the 17th straight monthly gain. The unemployment rate was 3.6 percent for the third straight month, a touch away from a half-century low.At the same time, the labor force grew by 330,000 people, and the share of adults employed or looking for work continued to edge closer to prepandemic levels.The data signaled that the Federal Reserve’s initial moves to dial back its monetary support for the economy were — at least so far — not constraining business activity so much that hiring was feeling a pinch.After the strong rebound from the depths of the coronavirus lockdowns — all but 800,000 of the 22 million jobs that were lost have been recovered — the Fed has shifted its emphasis from maximum employment to its other mandate: price stability. The challenge is to apply its primary tool, a steady series of interest-rate increases, without inflicting a recession.“I think we’re on sort of what looks like a glide path right now, and that’s good — nothing’s broken,” said Guy Berger, the principal economist at the career-focused social network LinkedIn. “But keep fast-forwarding it a year and the question marks are still big.”The closely watched indicators include the impact on wages, which have been increasing at a pace not seen in decades, though not enough to keep up with inflation over the past year. The Fed is worried that rising labor costs will be passed along to consumers.Wages kept rising across industries.Percent change in average hourly earnings for nonmanagers since January 2019

    Data is seasonally adjusted. Not adjusted for inflation.Source: Bureau of Labor StatisticsBy The New York TimesOn that score, the Labor Department report showed little change in trajectory. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent from the previous month, the same pace as in April, and were 5.2 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase in April.“It’s moderating, but it’s not moderating to a level, I think, where it’s consistent with the Fed’s inflation goals,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan, said of wage growth. He said the Fed would probably want wages to cool toward an annualized 3.5 percent pace, at the higher end, a rate that officials view as aligned with 2 percent inflation.The State of Jobs in the United StatesJob gains continue to maintain their impressive run, even as government policymakers took steps to cool the economy and ease inflation.May Jobs Report: U.S. employers added 390,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.6 percent ​​in the fifth month of 2022.Vacancies: Employers had 11.4 million vacancies in April down from a revised total of nearly 11.9 million the previous month, which was a record.Opportunities for Teenagers: Jobs for high school and college students are expected to be plentiful this summer, and a large market means better pay.Higher Interest Rates: Spurred by red-hot inflation, the Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates. What does that mean for the job market?President Biden gave a nuanced celebration of the jobs data in remarks on Friday, emphasizing recent gains while arguing that a slowdown would be welcome, allowing inflation to ease.“The point is this: We’ve laid an economic foundation that’s historically strong,” Mr. Biden said. “Now we’re moving forward to a new moment, where we can build on that foundation, build a future of stable, steady growth so that we can bring down inflation without sacrificing all of the historic gains that we have made.”Stocks declined on Friday and bond yields rose as investors evidently read the report as reinforcing the Fed’s muscular efforts, which risk denting economic growth. “The better the data, the more difficult that a pause or reduced pace of tightening later this year becomes,” analysts at TD Securities wrote in a research report published after the jobs numbers were released.The continued job gains are among many indications of a vibrant economy. Reports from the nation’s largest banks show checking accounts are still above 2019 levels for nearly all income groups. New bankruptcies and debt-collection proceedings are both at their lowest levels since tracking began in 1999.Yet those encouraging trends have been at odds with the generally sour national mood, dominated by inflation concerns. U.S. consumer sentiment declined in early May to the lowest since 2011, according to the University of Michigan.The unemployment rate stayed flat in May.The share of people who have looked for work in the past four weeks or are temporarily laid off More