The rate at which workers quit their jobs—seen by many economists as a sign of confidence in the labor market—fell slightly to a seasonally adjusted 2.1% in August from 2.2% in July, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known as Jolts, released Wednesday.
The quits rate, or the share of employed people who voluntarily leave their jobs in a month, has held nearly steady for two years after slowly climbing after the recession ended in mid-2009. The sideways move in the quits rate comes at a time when the unemployment rate has fallen to a 16-year low and the number of available jobs has touched the highest level on records back to 2000.
Companies have grown more reluctant to borrow after an initial surge of optimism following the election, said Jeff Glenzer, vice president at the Association for Financial Professionals, a group for corporate finance and treasury professionals. “All the turmoil and the inability to move policy through Washington set in,” he said.
But analysts say the prolonged slowdown in commercial-loan growth may simply be a function of the metric returning to its normal level in recent decades. Growth in the category ran far above gross domestic product growth in the years following the financial crisis, a streak that is difficult to maintain for any prolonged period.
The biggest single age cohort today in the U.S. is 26-year-olds, who number 4.8 million, according to Torsten Slok, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank . People 25, 27 and 24 follow close behind, in that order. Many are on the verge of life-defining moments such as choosing a career, buying a house and having children.
Companies looking to grab a piece of that business, however, have run into a problem. This generation, with its over-scheduled childhoods, tech-dependent lifestyles and delayed adulthood, is radically different from previous ones. They’re so different, in fact, that companies are developing new products, overhauling marketing and launching educational programs—all with the goal of luring the archetypal 26-year-old.
Ships nearly three times as large as the ones crossing before the expanded locks opened in June of 2016 are bringing tens of millions of additional dollars in tolls and a trading boom to U.S. East Coast ports, allaying some fears that investments to cater to the bigger vessels wouldn’t see enough returns.
Since the start of the year, transiting tonnage at the Panama Canal has increased by nearly 23%, canal executives say. Last week marked the 2,000th transit of a ship that wouldn’t have fit through the old locks.
. . . The widened waterway means importers as far inland as Tennessee could find it cheaper to bring in Asian goods to ports like New York, Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., rather than move them by rail and truck from West Coast ports, which handle about two-thirds of Asia-to-Americas trade.
The U.S. enjoys a giant trade surplus in scrap, including household recycling, says the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. According to the trade group’s chief economist, Joe Pickard : “We’re like the Saudi Arabia of scrap.”
Now there’s a heap of trouble confronting America’s separators of paper and plastic: The biggest buyer of the stuff doesn’t want it anymore.
. . . The U.S. is the top producer of waste, according to the World Bank, and Americans have been doing a pretty good job recycling some of that. Curbside-recycling volumes have tripled since the late 1980s, surpassing 89 million tons in 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest figures.
What most Americans don’t know is that after workers pick up and sort their recycling, a good deal travels halfway around the world. The U.S. exported $16.5 billion in scrap last year, the scrap institute says, more than any other country. Paper and plastic were about $3.9 billion of that.
Over two-thirds of America’s wastepaper exports and more than 40% of its discarded-plastic exports ended up in China last year, the scrap institute says. Paper and plastic scrap exports to mainland China topped $2.2 billion—that’s more than exports to China of wheat, rice, corn, meat, dairy and vegetables combined, U.S. census data show.
In July, China filed a notice with the World Trade Organization about its plans to limit the entry of “foreign waste.” Even before that, starting this spring, scrap shippers say, some Chinese customers hadn’t been able to renew their import licenses.