The Economy Is Back: How Will That Affect Employers?

By Jack McCalmonThe McCalmon Group, Inc.

The labor participation rate rose again to 63.1 percent despite the weather. Most believed the September job reports to be a setback because of the Texas, Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico hurricanes, but the underlying numbers prove that the economy is standing strong.

The recent numbers from the Department of Labor show that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent, the lowest since 2001. The hurricanes did impact the food industry and led to an overall loss of 33,000 jobs, however. Even so the overall unemployment rate has stayed steady at 8.6 percent.

Although the numbers look good for finding and keeping a full-time job, what employers need to consider is that wages are continuing to go up. Payroll numbers rose to 12 cents, and the average hourly earnings have increased 2.9 percent in the last 12 months. Susan Jones “63.1%: Participation Rate Reaches Trump-Era High; Record Number of Employed” (Oct. 06, 2017).


Once the impact of the hurricanes is addressed, employers can expect that the job and wage numbers will increase especially as construction begins in Texas, Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Congress also has bilateral support for an infrastructure program. If an infrastructure program is passed, employers will find a very competitive job market, especially in the construction industry.

When an economy improves, especially after the recession, turnover is bound to increase especially from employees who are presently filling low- paying or part-time jobs. Employees with experience, but working part-time, will have more options for increased wages and full-time employment.

Employers that have low wages, who cannot increase wages and do not have competitive benefits, will have to look at candidates with less experience or who are reentering the job market. Employers that use temporary employees may also experience a shortage of qualified talent.

As for litigation exposure, layoffs and terminations place employers at their biggest risk. When the economy improves, there are fewer layoffs and terminations lowering risk. Moreover, employees who are laid off or terminated are more likely to find “like employment,” decreasing the possibility that they will seek legal redress.


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