Cost of living stagnant as jobs market improves

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008. More jobs were added last year than any year since 1999, but wages and inflation aren’t changing to match that trend.

If you look at just the numbers, the job market is a promising sign of an improving economy.

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in December, but the cost of living and salaries aren’t increasing.

“There’s, you know, other things behind those numbers which points to a slightly different picture,” Economist Dr. Karl Petrick told 22News. The Western New England University professor said the unemployment rate is dropping because more people are giving up on finding jobs. “Our labor force participation rate is actually quite low…Those people don’t disappear. They’re just this pool of unemployed people which aren’t counted as unemployed in the official statistic,” Dr. Petrick.

Dr. Petrick told 22News with so many people desperate to just get any job, employers know they can keep their salaries low and still fill the positions.

“I don’t think that most businesses around here are really making a lot of money. I think most business owners are probably just getting by as well,” said attorney Jerry Glasser of Holyoke.

Many unemployed workers are finding part time jobs. 60 percent of all jobs added in 2014 were filled by recent college graduates.

“When I graduate I’m talking to a couple people, a couple people that my mom know, trying to get a job with them, hopefully they have a spot for me. It’s not necessarily in my major, but at least it’s something to rely on when I get out,” said Nick Van Oudenhove, a senior in marketing at Western New England University.

New technology is also reducing the need for highly skilled, highly paid employees. There are still effects of the Great Recession: companies are afraid to expand and families are still struggling to pay off debt.

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