• The Market’s Crashing….! So….?

    The US Stock Market – or also known as Hershey Park’s latest roller coaster – has attracted a bit of attention lately for its long bull run, and now it’s volatility and crashes. As often happens when the stock market misbehaves, my phone starts to ring with clients and business peers asking me what I’m seeing happening in the local economy.

    Our trend continues to remain counter to what’s happening in the stock market.

    We continue to see strong demand from employers for temporary staff as well as for “perm / direct-hire” positions. The numbers I watch like a hawk – daily orders; open positions; hours worked; assigned temporary employees; etc. – are all continuing to trend upward and are all ahead of this time last year. To me – these are all indicators of a solid local economy. DISCLAIMER – could all this change based on the stock market continuing to decline, or due to other international forces? You bet!!

    But based on what we’re seeing from a broad spectrum of companies here in Lancaster County: large and small, local; regional; national; and international… things are not looking like what I’m seeing in the news.

    Hold on for the ride – uncertainty will ... Read More

  • Job Openings at 14 Year High


    There’s always a but, right?  The US Department of Labor reported that the number of open jobs in the United States was the highest in 14 years.  The BUT is that companies FILLED those positions at the slowest pace since the end of last Summer.  Job openings rose 2.5% in January 2015 to a seasonally adjusted 5 million – that’s the highest since 2001.  Available jobs were 28% higher compared to one year ago.  While hiring rose an even faster 3.5% to 5.24 million, that is the slowest rate since last August. Poor winter weather may be one cause.  Ok – here’s another but- but companies also complain that it has become increasingly harder to find workers with the precise skills they need.

    The latest employment survey from the National Federation of Independent Business, for example, says the number of job openings that went unfilled rose to an eight-year high. At the end of January there were 1.8 unemployed workers per job opening, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, up from 1.78 in December. With the labor market recovering, Americans are somewhat more willing to quit their current jobs to take another position elsewhere. The quits rate edged ... Read More

  • Wages. It All Comes Down to Supply and Demand

    Wages, wages, wages.  It all comes down to supply & demand. I first learned about supply and demand in the last century, in High School!  I’m not going to bore you – if you’re reading this you know what it is.  But two news stories this morning made me think back to the big hair and parachute-pant days of the 1980’s.

    The US Labor Department reported this morning that weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped to by 21,000 last week to a 15 week low.  As newscasters like to say, in related news….  Wal-Mart announced yesterday that it is spending $1 Billion (yup – Billion) to increase wages and improve training of their employees.  Wal-Mart will be raising entry level wages to at least $10/hr by February of next year.  This includes the less than 6000 Wal-Mart workers who make the Federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.

    So – is this Wal-Mart suddenly becoming benevolent and giving money away?  I guess… not.  Is this Wal-Mart attempting to fend off unionization efforts?  Again – I think not.

    It’s simple economics.  There are fewer and fewer qualified people for every job available today (the supply is down – to pre-recessionary levels in our market here at ... Read More

  • Lancaster County Economy “Still Not Back” to Pre-Recession Levels…. Is that All Bad?

    The National Association of Counties recently released its “County Economic Tracker 2014, Progress through Adversity” report and the headline is not good for Lancaster County. But upon further analysis I’m not so sure that I agree 100%.

    The report looks at four areas: jobs; unemployment rate; GDP; and home prices.

    The report states that the Lancaster County Economy remains behind in all four areas. I believe that in many respects that’s good. Here’s why.

    Home Prices – It seems to me that overinflated home prices was a contributing factor in the recession (or mess as I like to call it) in the first place. Home prices are recovering – just not at pre-recession levels. I’d argue that’s better than if prices were back to those levels. Slower, incremental growth works for me in this area. GDP – OK – this is one I’d like back at pre-recession levels. However – the forecasters I follow are all looking for smaller growth in the near term. Growth still works for me.

    Now on to my specific area of expertise:

    Job Growth & Unemployment Rate – I’m lumping the other two indicators of the report into one bullet. Lancaster County’s pre-recession unemployment rate was 3.6%. I’ve said this before ... Read More
  • Strong Hiring Numbers – Nationally and Locally

    I subscribe to several industry emails to keep current.  In one email today there were three headlines (of the total of four) that really jumped out at me.  These headlines all show strong hiring numbers nationally and corroborate what we are seeing here locally.

    First:  “US Manufacturing, Services Sectors’ July Hiring Plans Highest in Four Years”.  Based on a Society of Human Resources leading indicators survey the manufacturing sector reports that 58% of companies plan to hire and only 4.8% plan to reduce staff in July.  The services sector showed a similar trend with 54.4% reporting plans to hire and just 5.2% planning to reduce staff.  Both sectors report increased difficulty in recruiting professionals.  We are seeing this trend locally as well, with strong professional and temporary demand.  Further – we are also seeing the strongest wage pressure we’ve seen in years.  That’s upward pressure by the way.

    The other two headlines sounded similar themes:

    Second:  “US Adds 281,000 Jobs in June says ADP, Market ‘Improving’.”

    Third:  “Online Job Ads Rise in June”

    As stated above the employment market is tightening both nationally and locally.  We are seeing strong demand for qualified employees at all levels – and the supply is similar to what we were seeing ... Read More