The years America went to work

Posted 8/26/19

In quirkily related business news that may have caught your eye: Uber plans to lease enough space in Chicago’s soon-to-be-renovated old post office building to accommodate thousands of workers, …

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The years America went to work


In quirkily related business news that may have caught your eye: Uber plans to lease enough space in Chicago’s soon-to-be-renovated old post office building to accommodate thousands of workers, while restaurant managers in Fort Smith, Arkansas, are struggling to hire enough people to staff their kitchens and dining rooms.

These are two scenes from a robust economy that is driving job growth and giving more Americans opportunities for better lives. They are reminders of the current era’s prosperity. But don’t take the good times and help-wanted signs for granted. How easy it would be to imagine a U.S. downturn, a recession, canceled buildings projects, widespread layoffs, new college grads failing to launch ...

Instead, come with us on a brief economic vitality tour. First to the 2.8 million-square-foot old post office along the Chicago River, undergoing an $800 million-plus redevelopment after being vacant for many years. Uber will move in, as will Walgreens. Cboe Global Markets and Cisco Systems are close to completing deals, the Tribune’s Ally Marotti and Ryan Ori report. Before the building is occupied, an army of engineers, designers and construction workers will restore the Art Deco-style hulk to glory. What does it mean? Jobs, jobs and more jobs in Chicago.

Now, on to Fort Smith, though it could have been San Antonio, or the west coast of Florida, or another region with a red-hot job market. In Fort Smith, we read in the local Southwest Times Record newspaper, unemployment is below 4% and there’s a restaurant boom underway. Lots and lots of help wanted.

Here’s what caught our eye about Fort Smith: “Unemployment is so low that employers are fighting for employees,” Tammy Jones, manager for Goodwill Career Services in Northwest Arkansas, told the Times Record.

Nationally the unemployment rates for African Americans and Latinos are flirting with record lows. Continued U.S. growth and hiring are pushing up wages, which is helping to propel strong consumer spending. What’s also happening is a long-awaited increase in the number of long-discouraged job seekers rejoining the work force.

Yet how tenuous the good times can be. President Donald Trump is engaged in a debilitating trade fight with China that’s spooked investors. The Fed cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point at the beginning of August out of concern for the expansion. Europe’s economy is slowing. There are no guarantees in life or economics. Except for this ...

The nation’s economists and political pundits are having a field day with their predictions of the next recession. We often note that, to some extent, all such projections are absolutely accurate. The U.S. will endure another recession. Lots of them, actually. The only question is when. And we have yet to meet the visionary who can reliably answer that question.

Suffice to say that we’ll recognize the next recession when it arrives. And we’ll pine for the years when America went to work.

Our wish today is for the president to resolve his argument with China, for wise Fed judgment on monetary policy and for politicians of all stripes to recognize what a robust economy looks like, and make smart decisions that will help keep the job growth going. The more this excellent market for workers intensifies, the greater the benefit to all Americans.


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