Positive signs from job market, despite threats

Despite threats, signs from job gains suggest the economic outlook may improve from a modest start to the year. The job gains, however, remain skewed toward Western and some Southern states and metro markets.

The threats to the outlook are coming from trade tariffs, rising interest rates, and growing inflation pressure led by fuel and food prices.

Despite the threats and uneven growth, overall job gains in June kept to a strong pace (200k+) for a second month in a row. This follows job gains that had been on a slowing trend except for a strong February.

Below are highlights from the latest look at jobs trends. For a summary across other key economic and consumer indicators, see the latest post and data storyboard here.

  • Weak markets. Eleven states are growing at about a 0.5% pace or weaker—with North Dakota, Alaska, and Vermont the worst off. Others falling into this group recently include Washington D.C., Montana, and Minnesota.
  • Local market exceptions. In a few cases, relatively strong local markets exist despite weaker job markets at a state level, such as: Nashville-TN, and Oklahoma City-OK. Conversely, performing relatively worse than their states are: Chicago-IL, Cleveland and Cincinnati-OH, Detroit-MI, Miami-FL, New Orleans-LA, St. Louis-MO, and Virginia Beach and Richmond-VA.
  • Strongest markets. The strength in the top 11 states by job growth (2%+ growth) is led by local markets with the strongest gains nationally (3%+ growth), which include: Austin and Dallas-TX; Orlando and Jacksonville-FL; Riverside, and San Jose-CA; Seattle-WA; and Phoenix-AZ.
  • Rising markets. States showing significant improvement compared with three months ago include: West Virginia, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Kansas, and Nebraska.

The differences by local market and industry are hidden amid the relative strong overall gain of 213,000 jobs in June—which was not quite as strong as the gain of 244,000 jobs in May.

The job trends likely will help lift economic growth overall (see more here) and consumer retail spending (see retail-related trends here) in particular.

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