Friday, March 18, 2005

Breathe easy, workers…

In an article subtitled “A brightening labor market could make this the time to look for a new job,” Matthew Benjamin of tells us that the jobless recovery is indisputably over.

Some 262,000 new jobs were created last month, with almost every sector of the economy contributing, including manufacturing. That's icing on the cake after January, when the U.S. labor market at long last recouped all of its losses from the 2001 recession. There are now about 300,000 more people working than in February 2001, the pre-recession peak.

Throw in the recent drop in jobless claims and a spike in help-wanted ads, and this very well may be a good time to remind your current employer of your value, consider a new job, or refresh that search for one if you're out of work and have been discouraged about hiring prospects. "All of these forward indicators of labor-market activity are pointing in the same direction: a more robust labor market this spring than we've seen in 12 to 18 months," says Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board.

But this job market differs from those of the past. The biggest gains in jobs are occurring south and west, with workers following the sun in pursuit of careers and employers chasing favorable regulatory and tax environments. Manufacturing, meanwhile, continues its long-term employment decline. The mobility of work that depends less on the availability of natural resources and more on human and computer brainpower is intensifying the shift of payrolls away from the Northeast and Midwest.

Nowhere is the job boom stronger than in Florida. The Sunshine State generated 291,000 new positions in 2003 and 2004; that's 11 times the average of all states. An influx of pre-retirement baby boomers as well as current retirees, immigrants, and others, is driving the economies of Florida, Nevada, and Arizona.

According to a study by the Milken Institute, an economic think tank in Santa Monica, Calif., seven of the top 20 job-creating metropolitan areas in 2004 were in Florida. Four were in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Other high-ranking metro areas include Boise, Idaho and Fayetteville, Ark., which have been helped by strong entrepreneurial activity and proximity to research universities. A few large metropolitan areas also did well in the ranking, including the Phoenix-Mesa and Washington, D.C., areas, where government spending, especially on defense and homeland security, has sparked a job boom.


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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