Headlines lately have centered around scares of an impending recession due to the weakening US dollar amid other economic factors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data stating that the US added 223,000 jobs in December, which is evidence that a recession is not as near as some may think. Only 5,000 jobs in the transportation industry were added – a drastic difference from other sectors, which saw increases topping tens of thousands. December’s numbers were down from the previous two months that surpassed 280,000 jobs. Twenty-twenty-two has been marked as the second-best year for the labor market since 1939 – over eight decades ago.
What is a Recession?
A recession is a period of economic downturn, typically marked by a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) for two or more consecutive quarters. It is a normal part of the business cycle but can have significant impacts on individuals and societies. During a recession, businesses may struggle and lay off workers, and people have difficulty finding jobs. Governments will often take steps to stimulate economic growth and reduce the impact of a recession.
How Does this Data Suggest a Recession is Overblown?
An increase in employment can be a positive sign for the economy, as it suggests that businesses are confident enough in their economic conditions to hire additional workers. An increase in employment can also lead to a rise in consumer spending, as workers with jobs tend to have more disposable income. Eventually, this leads to economic growth.
Employment, however, is only one aspect of the overall health of an economy. There are many factors that can impact economic conditions, such as GDP growth, inflation, and the performance of financial markets. Speaking of, recent reports on consumer spending have also indicated that the US isn’t in a recession – or that one is looming. In the third quarter of 2022, consumer spending rose to $14,178.56 billion from just over $14 billion in the previous quarter.
NACS pointed out an interesting statistic to keep in mind when considering the current labor market. According to their data, 1.7 jobs remain open for every available worker. Because of this, companies have increased wages to sweeten the deal for their workers. We saw this trend during the peak of the driver shortage when the majority of fleets raised pay at an average of 10.9% for drivers – not including referral and sign-on bonuses that were offered.
While some sectors are keeping up with more job openings, the fuel industry continues to manage the driver shortage. Truck driving jobs have been vacant as the driver shortage came to a head during the pandemic. While the shortage is on the mend, it’s still a topic of conversation as more and more jobs are added to the mix. Cole Carroll, Mansfield’s SVP of Human Resources, said, “The year ahead excites me not only for our organization but for the labor market in general. Coming off a year with driver shortages, it would be refreshing to see a year of employment growth for our industry.”