Money Matters: Work out what job reports mean for workers

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Headlines often don’t tell the whole story, or necessarily reflect what matters most to people in your local communities. Journalists, particularly local journalists, can add critical context and local angles to empower viewers, listeners and readers to better understand their communities and make more informed decisions for themselves – including about their money.

Consider one story that regularly generates headlines: the monthly jobs report.

Here are a few facts from the March 2018 jobs report:

  • March marks the 90th straight month of jobs growth, the longest streak on record.
  • Economists predicted 185,000 additional jobs in March, but the actual job growth was 103,000.
  • The unemployment rate did not decrease from 4.1%.
  • Unemployment is at the lowest rate since 2000.
  • Jobs growth fell short of projections by 75,000.
  • Average monthly job creation for the first 3 months of 2018 was 202,000.

Individually, none of those facts or headlines gives a complete picture. Remember, there are multiple sides to every story.

And without some additional reporting, none may be particularly relevant to people in your community, who may be wondering:

  • Am I going to be able to find a job?
  • Am I earning enough to support myself and my family?
  • Am I worried about being laid off?

Here are some ways to add context and a local perspective to an important national story – this month and coming up.

  • Job growth varied by industry. What are some of the primary industries employing people in your town? Are they growing? By how much? Talk to some employers about their plans.
  • What about wages? Reports show wages are not growing as quickly as jobs are increasing. Are people in your community struggling with stagnant paychecks? Do people in your community work multiple jobs to make ends meet? If jobs are growing in your area, are they high- or low-wage jobs?
  • According to the recent jobs report, job growth may have slowed in part due to weather. Are any businesses or industries in your community being affected by weather? Are seasonal businesses hiring more or fewer workers?
  • Talk to a local employment center, temp agency or recruiter. Are there any upcoming hiring fairs in your area? What about job training programs? 

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