Dan Celia: Headwinds, Not Tailwinds—Now What?
If Labor Participation Is at a 40-Year Low, We Have a Problem
PHILADELPHIA—Like most of the financial world, nationally syndicated host and biblical investing authority Dan Celia is talking about this morning’s jobs report. The U.S. created 164,000 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent—down from 4.1 percent and the first time it’s dropped below 4 percent since the end of 2000. Celia also noted that economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a gain of 188,000 nonfarm jobs.
Celia discusses these and other global and economic headlines on his daily, three-hour “Financial Issues” program, heard on about 650 television and radio stations nationwide.
Additionally, Celia added, the average hourly wage paid to American workers rose 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $26.84. The yearly rate of pay increases remained unchanged at 2.6 percent for the third month in a row. Employment gains for March and April revised upward by a combined 30,000, according to the Labor Department. And the government also said that 135,000 new jobs were created in March, rather than 103,000. February’s increase was trimmed to 324,000 from 326,000. And labor participation is heading in the wrong direction, Celia said, 62.8 down from 62.9.
“The big question today is, ‘are these good numbers or not-so-good numbers?” Celia said. “The good news is that the media will be excited about unemployment at 3.9 percent. I don’t look at this as good news, as I said yesterday. I was hoping for 4.1 percent or maybe even higher, meaning that people are coming back into the labor force. The concern I have is that this is continuing to confirm what I feared most. It confirms that for the past seven years, I have been wrong about the labor participation rate.
“What I mean by that,” Celia continued, “is for years I’ve said I don’t believe that labor participation has reached a 40-year low because people are retiring or deciding they are never going to go back to work. I believed it was because of poor opportunities and not enough jobs available. As much as I hate to say it, it looks as though I could have been wrong. We truly may be at a 40-year low in labor participation. It will be very difficult for our economy to keep growing without any workers. Many months ago, I wrote a column for Townhall that simply said if I am wrong about labor participation, we’ve got a huge problem on our hands. The premise of the article was that we should be less focused on illegal immigration and more focused on legal immigration. We need to take measures to streamline legal immigration for those people who want to be in America and assimilate into the American culture and workforce. We will desperately need workers, and it looks as though were already at that point.”
Celia shared an example from his own organization, Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries (FISM). He employs a young man from Brazil who is attending school in the U.S. and has done everything necessary “to the letter of the law” to continue working in America. He recently found out he was not approved to extend his work visa and now must go back to school in order to stay in the U.S., and forced to work part time for the ministry as well.
“This is a brilliant young man who loves America, loves the Lord and loves his work at Financial Issues,” Celia said. “These are the kinds of things we have to fix for the sake of the economy in America. The administration and Congress better get to work on this before anything else—before infrastructure, before more tax cuts, before any more incentives to corporate America. All of that will be of little use if we have runaway inflation and no workers to fill positions.”
Read more about Celia, FISM and “Financial Issues” here or visit the FISM web site, its Facebook page, on YouTube at Financial Issues with Dan Celia or on Twitter @financialissues; download the FISM app here.