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School of Business

St. Louis Job Market Shows Strength

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

October 12, 2017

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released August's metropolitan area unemployment rates last week, and there's good news for the St. Louis region. The St. Louis Metropolitan area saw its unemployment rate drop a full percentage point -- from 5.1% in August 2016 to 4.1% in August 2017. St. Louis's improvement is tied for #66 among the 388 metropolitan areas for which BLS gathers data. Among the 51 metropolitan areas with populations of 1 million or more, the St. Louis area's August 2017 un...

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Nobel Prize in Economics

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

October 10, 2017

I remember very well in 1986 when James M. Buchanan won the Nobel Prize in Economics. I was in college -- majoring in economics -- and a friend asked me about Buchanan's research. I summarized it by saying that "when politicians make decisions about economic policies, they worry about being re-elected." When my friend asked about previous winners, I noted that the 1985 winner, Franco Modigliani had formulated the life-cycle hypothesis, which explains why people would save money during their work...

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Amazon Employment Grows

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

August 25, 2017

As reported in the Illinois Business Journal, the two Amazon fulfillment centers in Madison County are up and running, and now are employing over 2,000 workers. This is especially interesting to me, as my colleagues and I prepared an economic impact study earlier this year for the three major logistics centers in Madison County. The study was commissioned by a partnership of Madison County, the City of Edwardsville, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, and the St. Louis Regional C...

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July 2017 Unemployment Data

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

August 07, 2017

The July US Employment Situation Summary was released last Friday, and it's an extremely good report. The best news for workers is that the national unemployment rate continues to be very low, dipping slightly to 4.3%. This is the 15th consecutive month that the US unemployment rate has been below 5%. Non-farm payrolls increased by a robust +209,000 jobs. May's figure was revised downward from +152,00 to +145,000, but this is still an upward revision from its original value of +138,000...

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Three Types of Unemployment

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

July 13, 2017

Earlier this week, when discussing the latest unemployment data, I referred to the concept of "natural unemployment." In particular, I pointed out that the June 2017 national unemployment rate of 4.4% was below the level that most economists consider to be "natural."

Which leads to the question, what is natural unemployment? It turns out that, for a term that has been used a lot in the popular press, it's not a very simple idea. And, as is often the case, economists don't univers...

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June 2017 Unemployment Data

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

July 10, 2017

The national June 2017 unemployment figures were released last week, and they contain a few interesting tidbits. Historical data for the US seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics web page for Series LNS14000000. (County-level data won't be released until July 21st.)

The headline of course is that unemployment continues to be quite low. The seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.4% means that the US has now gone 14 consecutive months with unemployment below 5...

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The Region's Age Profile

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

June 22, 2017

Most Americans are familiar with the nation’s decennial census. Mandated in Article I of the US Constitution, this once-every-ten-years effort is used to allocate congressional representatives and electoral votes. The last decennial census was in 2010, and the next one will take place in the spring of 2020.

What might be less familiar to many Americans are the annual estimates that are also published by the Census Bureau. These estimates are created using birth and death data from the Nat...

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New Metro East Data from BLS

By Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

June 21, 2017

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the latest data from its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. This is a treasure trove of information about labor markets for each county in the US. The latest data describe the situation as of the fourth quarter of 2016 (October, November, and December).

Here are some of the headline numbers for the Metro East:

Compared with December 2015, Madison County shows an employment increase of 2.2% (about 1,830 jobs), but a 4.8% decrease in average wee...

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