On January 1, 2014, the unemployment rate was at 6.7%. On that day, in my first blog posting I wrote that CNBC’s Jim Cramer predicted that the rate would drop to 6% before the end of the year. And today, Cramer’s forecast was achieved with stronger than expected growth of 248,000 new jobs, sending the unemployment rate to 5.9%. Even better news, full time positions surged by 671,000 jobs while part-time positions fell by 384,000.
Just back from the really big IMTS in Chicago. This was my 20th show (first was in 1974, missed ’76, and have been to every one since). I can remember other shows where attendance was over 100,000, but it’s been a long time since we’ve hit six figures. The mood was positive if not down-right enthusiastic. Growth among machine tool industry suppliers is in full swing. Forecasts from individual manufacturers are from steady to strong, information which is supported by Gardner Business Media’s own Metalworking Business Index and its Capital Spending Survey, which anticipates an increase of over 30% for 2015 compared to 2014.
Techspex’s Metalworking Operational Trends survey is underway now, but a preliminary sample reconfirms the long-standing challenge that manufacturers can’t find enough qualified workers. In spite of hundreds of new technical training programs and a push by industry and government to encourage young people to explore a manufacturing career, the shortages continue. But growth in manufacturing jobs has steadily grown, reshoring is a reality, and manufacturing is surely experiencing a renaissance in the United States. So the shortfalls may have more to do with manufacturing’s significant resurgence (and the growing labor supply still not being able to keep up with demand) than with a lack of young people’s interest in the pursuit of a manufacturing career.
September’s increases represent the 55th consecutive month of private sector job growth. And yet, criticism of government economic policy is still strong. I suppose that’s just politics. Yes, I wish we had a zero unemployment rate. But too rapid growth is always followed by busts. As I said in my first blog post on January 1, the recovery is slower than many would like, but it’s sound and not based on another fabricated bubble. On the day that Jim Cramer’s prediction came true, I still believe that today.