Issue #17 | July 17, 2018
Recently, from the Cleveland Fed
Columbus job seekers, take note
The Columbus metro area’s unemployment rate fell sharply in early 2018, from 4.0 percent in December 2017 to 3.3 percent by March. Nearly all major sectors of the economy added workers in the 12 months leading up to September 2017, with the top three fastest-growing sectors adding upwards of 11,000 jobs combined. Learn which industries are likely to be hiring and what else is happening in the Columbus region’s economy.
Toledo region’s economy sending mixed signals
Cleveland Fed researchers examining a recent set of economic indicators for the Toledo region found a mixed bag: Up slightly are per capita income and housing prices, but also credit card delinquency rates; down are consumer debt and unemployment, though the latter is driven by declines in the labor force and not by employment growth. Population in the region also declined slightly in 2016. Explore our June Metro Mix for the Toledo area.
Promoting diversity among economists-in-training
Recently, the Cleveland Fed hosted a workshop for a group of research assistants (RAs) from across the Federal Reserve System. The goals? To help prepare them for graduate studies in economics and to promote diversity in the profession. “Economics is a field that influences policy, and policy affects all kinds of people,” noted Loretta J. Mester, Cleveland Fed president and chief executive officer, in a recent speech. “It’s important to have diverse views inform that policy.” Check out an #EconoMe campaign on Twitter to see the reasons these RAs plan to study economics, explore open RA positions at the Fed, and read President Mester’s speech “Why I Want You to Study Economics: Increasing Diversity, Inclusion, and Opportunity in Economics.”
From our regular surveying of contacts across the region, we know labor conditions are a concern shared by many. Is the problem not enough jobs, not enough workers, workers who don’t have the right training or skills, some combination of these, or something else altogether?
We hear it’s a combination of things. We know that at a bigger-picture level, there is a mismatch between the skills that businesses are demanding and the skills of the available workforce. The mismatch varies from region to region.
But we also see that in many cases there are other more micro-level issues that affect the balance between supply and demand for labor. Lack of access to transportation is one. Awareness of opportunities is another; for example, I was talking with a gentleman at a workforce training program who wants to be a crane operator. Before the program, it didn’t occur to him that “crane operator” was even a thing. He became aware of it when he was connected with this organization that was able to train him.
Another issue is that there may be jobs that are available but fewer workers interested in them than previously. The trucking industry says it’s really short on long-haul drivers. In general, people don’t really want to do that job. You have to travel a lot. You may not be home as much. In economic theory, we would say that just means the wage needs to go up to entice people into those positions, but businesses say there’s only so much they can increase wages.
Every time the Fed conducts Beige Book surveys, we ask questions related to the business cycle, hiring, prices, costs, wages. The businesses tell us what they see before the data even hint at it. That’s very useful. [The information in the Beige Book is gathered primarily through interviews with business people in each District, along with information from Federal Reserve Bank and branch directors.]
Policymakers such as Loretta [Mester, the Cleveland Fed’s president] learn about emerging issues through data we collect and from business and community leaders who let us know how overarching trends are affecting the Fourth Federal Reserve District [Ohio, western Pennsylvania, the northern panhandle of West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky] on the ground. We also exchange information with community members, sharing what we’re seeing in our analyses. Plus, the knowledge we glean from constituents can inform our decision to pursue a particular line of research, which then would add to public understanding of a particular issue.
is vice president and senior regional officer in the Cleveland Fed’s Pittsburgh Branch and is responsible for tracking the regional economy and managing relationships with stakeholders in western Pennsylvania and in parts of West Virginia.
Graphic of the Month
Employment growth continues for Columbus
The Columbus metro area’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.0 percent in December 2017 to a near historical low of 3.3 percent in March 2018.
On the Calendar
Summer, summer, summertime
Barter, make your own currency, and explore the FRONT exhibition installation at the Cleveland Fed’s Learning Center and Money Museum (Cleveland, OH)
July 14–September 30
FRONT Triennial Art Exhibition (Cleveland, Oberlin, and Akron, OH)
Contemporary art installation by Philip Vanderhyden on display at the Cleveland Fed Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm
The P2P Financial Systems International Workshop (Cleveland, OH)
Professional papers on digital currencies, blockchain technologies, peer-to-peer lending, and crowdfunding
Reinventing Our Communities: Investing in Opportunity (Baltimore, MD)
June 19–21, 2019
Policy Summit 2019 (Cincinnati, OH)
Online registration coming soon
From around the Federal Reserve System
Women in Economics podcast
Women “really want to be known as good in the field regardless of whether we’re a man or a woman,” Cleveland Fed President Loretta J. Mester said in a podcast interview hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Millennials not on par with their Gen X counterparts in terms of net worth
Like millennials in 2016, Generation Xers in 2001 were the country’s youngest working generation. But when it comes to net worth, the similarity ends. The average value of total assets was lower for millennials in 2016 at $162,000 than for Gen Xers in 2001 at $198,000.
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