If you’ve been thinking that now is the time to get hired, to make a career switch, or just do a little level-setting interviewing to make sure you’re being paid properly, Friday’s jobs report pounded the desk on the fact that it’s time. It wasn’t just that the number of jobs added to the economy last month – 467,000 – blew pretty much every estimate out of the water. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is charged with taking care of these things, also went back and revised its take on what happened in the two months prior…and added another 700,000 jobs to the rolls. Evidently, as CNN’s Zachary B. Wolf explains, it’s simply tougher to get the forecasts right during a pandemic.
So, what now? Wolf lays out four things to expect. 1. Interest rates are going up. That’ll eventually make things better for savers, but it’ll make things tougher on borrowers – expect to pay more for mortgages, credit cards, and car loans. The savings rates never seem to move as quickly as the borrowing ones. Go figure. 2. The interest rate picture will take a toll on the markets. You’ll see this volatility in your retirement accounts. In fact, you’re seeing it already. Don’t panic. As I’ve noted before, it’s time in the market (not timing the market) that makes the difference long-term. 3. Eventually inflation will subside. Emphasis on eventually. This is not expected to happen overnight. And 4. We’re still in the middle of a labor crunch for now. So if you’re dissatisfied with your work, your paycheck, or both, now’s the time to make a change.
It’s Tougher For Women – Particularly For Caregivers
Clearly, though, that’s still harder to do if you’re a woman. The National Women’s Law Center has been following the impact of the pandemic on women in the workforce, to largely demoralizing results. And its latest missive was no exception. Although women gained 40.3% of the 467,000 jobs added in January – or 188,000 total – only 39,000 women joined the labor market as compared with over 1 million men. Yes, you read that right – 27 times the number of men joined the labor force last month as women. There are still 1.1 million fewer women in the labor force today than there were at the start of the pandemic. What’s to blame? The salary gap for sure. But then there are also caregiving responsibilities, for children and older parents.
Caregiving is a family issue, but it’s also a financial one. If you’re a family caregiver, please join me and AARP’s Amy Goyer for an interactive discussion on the financial implications of caregiving. We’ll go live on Facebook at 2 p.m. EST. Here’s a link.
Numbers Don’t Lie
And, as Black History Month is underway, it feels appropriate to point out that it’s even tougher for Black Women and Latinas. Although the unemployment rate dropped to 4% overall last month, it’s 5.8% for Black women aged 20 and over, and 4.9% for Latinas aged 20 and over. For white men, it’s 3.2% by comparison.
Although many companies and workplaces have stepped up their diversity and inclusion efforts in recent years, we clearly have a long way to go. This week, HerMoney’s Lindsay Tigar reached out to 10 Black Female Entrepreneurs and asked the question: What can we do to create more meaningful change?
My favorite pieces of advice? From Sherrill Mosee, founder of travel and work-bag maker Minkee Blue: “[We all need to] adopt a mindset of shared responsibility. Shared responsibility means no one is left out. I am responsible for acknowledging you when you enter the room. I am responsible for following up and introducing myself when you’re new on a call. I am responsible for inviting you for coffee or a chat over Zoom to get to know you, whether professional or personal. The expectation of being inclusive starts with all of us.”
And, from Tara Jaye Frank, equity strategist: “Bias is a concept we are all familiar with by now. I think of bias as a bullet train — its path is fast and familiar. Without conscious interruption, it will go where it has always gone, and pick up whom it has always picked up. It will also run some people over. Unless someone or something stops it in its tracks, nothing will change. We may change our work processes to be more inclusive, but our people implement these processes. Since not all people are equally committed to change, we need leaders who are willing to intervene and redirect when exclusive choices and behaviors rear their ugly heads.”
Realtors Get Real
The National Association of Realtors is out with a new study that looks at the affordability of homes for middle-income buyers and – no surprise to anyone who has been shopping for real estate – they found it’s fallen during the pandemic. Low mortgage rates combined with low inventory have produced an environment where buyers, forced into multiple bidding wars before they’re able to make a deal, find themselves waiving inspections, buying sight unseen and participating in all sorts of other home buying behaviors that would have been unthinkable in different times. What follows? Buyers’ remorse, as The New York Times reports, citing surveys from Zillow and the WAV group that three-quarters of buyers report some regret. What, in particular, would they change? The price (21% feel they overpaid). The fixer-upper nature of it all (one-third said the homes needed too much work). Oh, and location. Which is why this Wall Street Journal piece on realtors who are getting brutally honest made me smile. Realtors are taking to YouTube to warn that, for example, the traffic congestion on the Jersey Shore can get “quite annoying,” that you won’t be able to find a snowblower when you need one in Idaho, and that the landscape in Dallas subdivisions doesn’t offer much to look at. Refreshing.
Have a great week,