business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Conference Board yesterday said that its Consumer Confidence Index "increased in August, following three consecutive monthly declines. The Index now stands at 103.2, up from 95.3 in July. The Present Situation Index - based on consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions - improved to 145.4 from 139.7 last month. The Expectations Index - based on consumers' short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions - increased to 75.1 from 65.6. 

CNN suggests in its analysis that the glass may be half-empty:  "Lower gas prices helped consumer confidence bounce back in August, breaking a three-month stretch of worsening sentiment. However this improvement, while welcome, is tempered by ongoing worries that the US economy may be heading toward a recession."

Meanwhile, CNBC writes that "there were nearly 1 million more job openings than expected in July, an inflationary sign that the U.S. labor market is still extremely tight, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.

"Available positions totaled 11.24 million for the month, well in excess of the 10.3 million FactSet estimate, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The total was about 200,000 higher than the 11.04 million in June, a number revised up from the initially reported 10.7 million."

And, Axios reports, "More job searchers are looking for work that pays $20 an hour, surpassing searches for $15 an hour … Inflation and a labor shortage pushed up wages faster than anyone could've imagined a decade ago — when Fight for $15, a union-led push to organize fast-food workers, was founded."

And, from ABC News:

"Labor unions reached their highest level of approval in the U.S. since 1965, according to a new Gallup poll.

"Seventy-one percent of poll respondents said they approve of such organizations, up from 68% last year. Prior to the pandemic, 64% of poll respondents said they approved of unions.

"Support for unions peaked in the 1950s, when three in four Americans said they approved of unions, Gallup data showed.  The increase in support for labor unions arrives amid a surge of labor activity nationwide. Petitions for union elections increased 57% over the first six months of fiscal year 2022, which ended on March 31, compared with the same six-month period a year prior, the National Labor Relations Board said in April."

KC's View:
  I find myself wondering if the labor market has changed permanently, and if assumptions and certainties that seemed to exist just a few years ago are now gone forever.

I'm no economist, but I'm fascinated by the degree to which experts seem a little gobsmacked by circumstances that normally would not be happening in tandem, leading to uncertainty and disagreements about how to deal with the economy.