Good News on the Job Front... It's time for Junior to Move out of the Basement

My local taco purveyor has a habit of posting a “help wanted” sign in the drive-through lane. In fact, upon reflection I now believe that sign has been up for at least a couple of years. Aside from the question of how many people with cars and money for take-out are looking for work, is the larger question of what’s going on with labor rates in America. 

 Creating jobs, especially entry level jobs, is an essential component of a healthy economy and the society that depends on that economy. Social scientists have produced scores of studies identifying work as a primary component of contentment in individuals and low unemployment rates as essential to a civil society.

Fortunately, our long run economic expansion (nine years and counting) has finally produced enough jobs that employers are being forced to compete for qualified candidates… my taco place touts free meals, all shifts available and Assistant Manager positions with wages starting at $10/hour. Now that may not seem like much to a college graduate, but to the recently turned sixteen year old who has grown tired of mowing his neighbors’ lawns for spare cash, this is a move up the economic ladder.

For the recent college graduate, the situation may be even better. Employment for Americans age 25-34, the age bracket in which college students leave undergraduate or post graduate studies and enter the workforce, has risen by 2.4% year over year compared to 0.7% for everyone else. The unemployment rate for both men and women age 25-34 is now a remarkably low 3.5%. Scarcity of workers, especially in entry level positions, inevitably leads to higher wages and better benefits…and more importantly, better communities.

What does all this mean? Recent college grads can now stop asking their parents for space in the basement and go back to a more traditional request…like, help from Mom and Dad with the down payment on a starter home.