Triangle’s vibrant economy — nearly 50,000 open positions — a buffer should recession come

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Recession fears are growing thanks to rate hikes, surging oil and gas prices and concerns that the housing market will finally cool. But one of the most important parts of the US economy — the labor market — remains strong. That’s especially true in the Research Triangle Park area.

“It signifies we are a booming area,” said North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden.

How big is the boom?, a site that focuses on jobs in tech, added 32 new positions alone on Sunday and Monday. Here’s another data point: Talent management firm Vaco has 55 open positions with 13 of those being posted over the last eight days.

Jobs site Adzuna lists more than 48,000 open positions with Glassdoor and Dice noting well over 35,000. Indeed cites 17,000 jobs available just in Wake County, according to data reviewed for WRAL TechWire’s exclusive, weekly Jobs Report.

A review of major jobs boards and help wanted sites as of early July 4 show thousands of positions – from part-time to contractor to full-time – remain available. Despite all the talk about a looming recession, inflation and supply chain woes many Triangle employers keep adding jobs. Glassdoor and Dice, for example, are up some 500 jobs over the June 27 Jobs Report from WRAL TechWire. Other major sites remain flat or show slight declines in numbers.

And the need for talent remains drivers with a mixture of Varsity Tutors, Wake Med, Oracle, PWC and Advanced Auto Parts listed as the hottest hirers at Adzuna.

Especially strong is the tech sector where Work in the Triangle lists more than 10,000 openings. They include:

  • More than 8,100 in tech
  • More than 450 in life sciences
  • Nearly 1,100 in advanced manufacturing
  • And 327 in clean tech

The Triangle numbers reflect a national market in which workers are in the proverbial driver’s seat, commanding healthy paychecks as many businesses find it difficult to hire workers in the midst of the Great Resignation.

Statewide, companies also are trying to fill open jobs. North Carolina’s job opening rate in the month with the most recent data was calculated to be 8.10% and the rate over the prior 12 months was 7.33%, according to a WalletHub study.

But could even the job market be poised to finally take a turn for the worse?

The government reports the June payroll figures on Friday. The data will wrap up a busy week of jobs news, including weekly unemployment numbers and monthly reports from payroll processor ADP about private sector jobs as well as the government’s job openings and labor turnover (JOLTS) survey.

Economists are forecasting that 295,000 jobs were added in June. That’s still a healthy amount, but lower than the 390,000 jobs gained in May as well as the revised jump of 436,000 jobs in April.

The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 3.6%, but it is likely to eventually start creeping higher. According to projections taken at the Fed’s latest meeting earlier this month, members of the central bank are predicting that the unemployment rate will end this year at 3.7%, rise to 3.9% next year and hit 4.1% in 2024.

The Fed is key to keeping those jobs coming. As interest rates rise, companies may pull back, Walden says.

“Right now their key rate is at 2%. I think they may have to take that up as high as 5%,” he said. But 40 years ago, in the early 1980s, that key rate was as high as 20%.

“We could be in a lot worse shape than we are now,” Walden said.

He pointed to early indicators that the economy may be cooling off.

“We’ve seen an increase in initial claims for unemployment. We saw a decline in building permits. There’s some indicators from the housing market that things are slowing down,” Walden said.

His advice to business owners and everyone else: Prepare for a downturn. Walden suggests thinking about some kind of emergency plan in the event there is such a slowdown that leads to job losses.

“If you were planning to put an addition on your home or buying another vehicle, maybe think about delaying those until next year,” Walden said.

Original Article Source: WRAL Techwire