The Corner

Economy & Business

Three Cheers for the Labor Market

I’ve been unemployed. (Hell, I’ve been unemployed recently, but that hardly counts.) Unemployment is hard. I went through a period some years ago when I’d lost a job and taken a pretty big step down in income with the make-do jobs I had while trying to get back to where I’d been. I moved three times in a year and then one more a year after that. It was one of the most difficult periods in my life. And I, of course, had it relatively easy.

So three big cheers for this from the Wall Street Journal today:

The job market doesn’t get much better than this. The U.S. economy has added jobs for 100 consecutive months. Unemployment recently touched its lowest level in 49 years. Workers are so scarce that, in many parts of the country, low-skill jobs are being handed out to pretty much anyone willing to take them — and high-skilled workers are in even shorter supply.

All sorts of people who have previously had trouble landing a job are now finding work. Racial minorities, those with less education and people working in the lowest-paying jobs are getting bigger pay raises and, in many cases, experiencing the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for their groups. They are joining manufacturing workers, women in their prime working years, Americans with disabilities and those with criminal records, among others, in finding improved job prospects after years of disappointment.

There’s more to life than a good income — but it’s a lot easier to get the rest of that stuff right with a good income.

The Journal notes that there are some weak spots: rural areas, and those that have been or remain economically dependent on diminished or moribund industries like textiles.

And so I will reiterate what apparently is the most controversial thought I’ve ever uttered: Move. If your prospects are tapped out in the place you are, then move. Go where the action is. That isn’t always easy. Neither is being disabled or a convicted felon trying to make a new life for himself. Nobody’s asking you to take a Conestoga wagon through Indian country to homestead a farm in the western territories. Just get on with it.

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