MONEY Raises

Why You Might Get a Raise Soon

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Good news for workers: Employers think the future is bright

If you’re looking for a raise — or a job — some good fortune might be coming your way. In the second quarter of this year, more employers reported rising wages and expanding payrolls, according to a new survey from the National Association for Business Economics. And businesses expect the economy will keep growing. A quarter of survey respondents now predict that real GDP will go up more than 3% next year.

For its quarterly business conditions survey, the NABE polls its members, which include business leaders, consultants and economists in a range of industries. They say they’re feeling more confident about the state of the economy — and that’s good news for workers.

Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, says as sales have gone up, businesses have finally needed to hire more employees to keep up with demand. Plus, now that Congress has averted a series of fiscal crises, employers think the economy will continue to grow, so they’ve started making investments again.

That includes investments in labor: This quarter, 43% of NABE’s respondents said their firms offered raises. That’s up from this time last year, when only 19% of respondents saw higher pay. A third of the respondents expect their businesses will raise salaries going forward. Also, 36% of respondents said their firms hired more people this quarter, and 37% expect their businesses to increase payrolls over the next three months.

“Employment has been rising, the unemployment rate has been coming down pretty sharply, so there’s no longer that deep bench of experienced workers,” Simonson says. “Increasingly, companies are having to pay a premium in order to have the best workers, to get anybody who has gone off to a competitor.”

The bad news? Overall demand for workers is still pretty low. Only 22% of respondents said they have a shortage of skilled workers. Compare that to before the recession: In January 2006, 44% of respondents needed more skilled workers.

But while the labor market remains slack, Simonson thinks the trends are positive.

“We’ve been hearing for the past year about companies having trouble finding workers,” Simonson says. “I do expect that at some point this year, we’ll see an acceleration in wage increases.”

MONEY Careers

POLL: How Do You Feel About Your Job?

Last year, less than half of U.S. workers were satisfied with their jobs, according to business research group The Conference Board. Are you one of the happy ones—or are you counting the days until you quit?

 

TIME Race

Study: Little Progress for African-American Men on Racial Equality Since 1970

Rates of incarceration and unemployment remain high

In recent years, the U.S. has celebrated the 50th anniversaries of the March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act and a number of other landmark accomplishments considered pivotal in making the U.S. a better place for African Americans.

But despite a deep reverence for those accomplishments, a new study suggests that African-American men today face such high levels of unemployment and incarceration that they are in little better position when compared with white men than a half-century ago.

The working paper, by University of Chicago researchers Derek Neal and Armin Rick, is based on preliminary findings and has not yet been peer-reviewed.

“The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act,” the study reads.

The study uses census data to show that more than 10% of black men in their 30s will be incarcerated at some point during a calendar year. This number was around 2% for white males of the same age group.

The study attributes the corrosive impact of incarceration on the African-American community, at least in part, to the institution of more punitive criminal-justice policies.

African-American men also appear to face a more difficult employment situation. More than a third of African-American men between the ages of 25 and 49 lacked employment in 2010.

“The Great Recession period of 2008–2010 was quite bleak for black men,” the study reads. “Recent levels of labor market inequality between black and white prime-age men are likely not materially different than those observed in 1970.”

[FiveThirtyEight]

MONEY The Economy

Why the Good Jobs Report Isn’t Even Better

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Bridge Building in the New Deal Era Photo Researchers—Getty Images

These four charts show why today's jobs report could have been that much better— if only public-sector employment would ever bounce back.

Thursday’s jobs report, which showed that the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 6.1%, was viewed in a very positive light.

Not only did more Americans gain employment than expected in June, but wages perked up as well. The White House, in fact, noted that the private sector has added 9.7 million jobs over 52 straight months of job growth.

The key word there is private. Of the 288,000 jobs added in June, 262,000 were private sector positions. That means only 26,000 came from Federal, state and local governments. Which means if you’re a teacher or a Leslie Knope-wannabe, finding work remains less than easy.

In fact, this chart shows how the public sector outlook has deteriorated since the end of the recession in June 2009:

US Government Payrolls Chart

US Government Payrolls data by YCharts

Yet in the aftermath of past recessions, such as the one that ended in 2001, local, state and federal jobs have traditionally been the first to rebound:

US Government Payrolls Chart

US Government Payrolls data by YCharts

Federal employment in particular continues to be weak…

Source: BLS

…The same goes for teaching jobs.

teachers
Source: BLS

Why have teachers had such a rough go of it? Well, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, states are simply spending less on education:

At least 35 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit. Fourteen of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent.

But states are not alone. Ever since the effects of the stimulus have worn off, federal government spending has also hit a wall.

TIME Careers & Workplace

America’s Worst Companies to Work For

A RadioShack Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures
RadioShack Corp. signage is displayed outside of a store in New York, U.S., on Sunday, March 2, 2014. RadioShack Corp. is scheduled to release earnings figures on March 4. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

Employees can now share their opinions about employers online. As a result, companies face new reputation risks that can affect their customers and shareholders.

For the third year, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the nation’s worst companies to work for. 24/7 Wall St. analyzed thousands of reviews from jobs and career website Glassdoor.com and selected the 11 companies with the lowest ratings.

Click here to see America’s worst companies to work for

Many of the companies on this list continue to be in the retail sector. As a result, complaints tended to focus on wages and hours worked. In many cases, these concerns focused on how difficult it can be for sales employees to meet targets that qualified them for commissions.

In other instances, employees complained more about how they thought a company was mishandling its customers. In the case of the Children’s Place, employees protested the pushy sales tactics. Jos. A. Bank employees wrote that the company’s changing product prices made it hard for them to make sales.

However, employees working in retail are not all unhappy. Scott Dobroski, associate director for corporate communication at Glassdoor.com, suggested that pay plays a big part. “We know that compensation is the number one factor job seekers consider when determining where to work.” Starbucks and Costco are examples of retail companies that offer benefits or pay above the industry average and that employees rate highly.

A significant share of employee grievances was directed at middle management. Workers at these companies were also highly likely to disapprove of their CEO. Chief executives at 10 of the 11 worst companies to work for received positive approval ratings from less than half of their employees. At six of these businesses, less than 30% of workers endorsed the CEO.

In the case of a number of these businesses, such as RadioShack and hhgregg, falling revenues, weak earnings and a sinking stock price may all contribute to lower employee morale and negative perceptions of executive performance.

However, negative employee opinions are not always a direct reflection of a company performance. Dillard’s has been a Wall Street darling. The company’s stock price has risen tenfold in the past five years.

To identify America’s worst companies to work for, 24/7 Wall St. independently examined employee reviews on Glassdoor.com. To be considered, companies had to have a minimum of 300 reviews. Of the more than 500 companies with more than 300 reviews, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 11 publicly traded companies that received the worst scores — 2.4 or lower. Employee totals are from each company’s latest 10-K filing.

These are America’s worst companies to work for:

4. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers
> Rating: 2.3
> Number of reviews: 317
> CEO approval rating: 24% (R. Neal Black)
> Employees: 6,469
> Industry: Apparel retail

Sales managers at Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. (NASDAQ: JOSB) frequently expressed frustration at the number of hours they were required to work. Sales workers often complained as well, with many citing a difficult commission structure and the company’s ever-changing product prices. While many employees said they enjoyed helping customers immensely, others felt customers were often demanding.

But while employees were unhappy with the company, Jos. A. Bank’s former shareholders had reason to be quite pleased. After months of bitter back-and-forth negotiations — which helped to drive up Jos. A. Bank’s share price — the clothing retailer was acquired by Men’s Wearhouse for $1.8 billion in March. The deal formally closed in mid-June. Unlike Jos. A. Bank employees, Men’s Warehouse’s staff has a higher view of their business, with employees awarding their company a 3.3 rating on Glassdoor.com.

MORE: America’s Most Profitable Products

3. Frontier Communications
> Rating: 2.3
> Number of reviews: 306
> CEO approval rating: 27% (Maggie Wilderotter)
> Employees: 13,650
> Industry: Telecom services

Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) is one of the larger communications companies in the United States, known primarily for providing services to rural and smaller American towns and cities. While Frontier Communications has been downsizing its workforce in recent years –headcount dropped by roughly 1,000 between 2012 and 2013 — the company considers its relationship with its employees to be good. Its employees may disagree, however. A number of reviewers seem to think Frontier Communications is no longer on the forefront of communications technology. One current employee explained, “The reason you can’t hire is that no one wants to work on a dinosaur.”

Despite the challenges of providing services to small, remote populations, Frontier has sought to expand its control of the rural market in recent years. The company bought 4.8 million access lines from Verizon in 2009. The company’s revenue, however, declined from $5.2 billion in 2011 to $5.0 billion in 2012 and then to $4.8 billion last year.

2. Express Scripts
> Rating: 2.2
> Number of reviews: 646
> CEO approval rating: 28% (George Paz)
> Employees: 29,975
> Industry: Health care services

Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX) is a leading pharmacy benefits manager, facilitating a wide range of pharmaceutical drug operations, including distribution and cost management. Poor work-life balance was one of the most common complaints among Glassdoor.com reviews. One former employee wrote, “work life balance is nonexistent, you are expected to be available to work all the time.” Less than a third of employees approved of Express Scripts’ CEO George Paz.

Unlike several other companies on this list, Express Scripts has grown considerably in recent years. After a merger with Medco Health Solutions in 2012, Some employees expected the company to conduct layoffs. Total employment declined only slightly, however.

MORE: Nine Companies with the Most Unusual Origins

1. Books-A-Million
> Rating: 2.0
> Number of reviews: 302
> CEO approval rating: 22% (Terry Finley)
> Employees: 5,400
> Industry: Specialty stores

Books-A-Million Inc. (NASDAQ: BAMM) employed roughly 5,400 workers at more than 250 U.S. stores as of the beginning of this year, most of which were part-time. Like many retailers with unhappy employees, Books-A-Million institutes commission-based pay structures. Perhaps as a result, high stress and low pay were common complaints on Glassdoor.com. One employee wrote, “to[o] much stress for the pay, very low pay, low chance of promotion, hours are based on magazine and discount card sales. Even if you’re normally good, if you have a bad week you get cut.”

Just 14% of employees said they would recommend this company to a friend. Books-A-Million’s culture and value were rated just 1.8, the lowest among companies reviewed. CEO Terry Finley is also not popular, with just 22% thinking he is doing a good job. Over the past several years, the company has struggled to keep up with other large retail and online book sellers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com

Read the rest of the list on 24/7 Wall Street.

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Volkswagen’s Sales Disaster Continues

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TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s What to Do If Your Boss Kind of Hates You

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J.A. Bracchi—Getty Images

In an ideal world, we’d all get along great with everybody we report to. Here’s what to do if that's not the case

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

In an ideal world, we’d all get along great with everybody we report to. Here’s what to do if that isn’t happening.

Dear Annie: I’ve had my current job as a human resources manager for about a year-and-a-half, and everything was going fine until we got a new boss from outside the department. He seems to have a need to do everything himself. I’ve also come across instances where he has snooped behind my back to find out what I’ve been doing. Today, I found out he asked my admin for details of my attendance at the office, “just to check” on me.

At the same time, he is really nice to other members of my team, which leads me to conclude that, for some reason, he just doesn’t like me. In the beginning, I tried to build a rapport with him but, after being snubbed more than once, I just don’t want to make the effort any more. Is there anything I can do, besides find a new boss? — Odd Man Out

Dear O.M.O.: You probably don’t want to hear this but, if you want to stay in this job, you’re going to have to keep trying. “This is hard, because you have to humble yourself a little and find a way to see things from this manager’s point of view,” says Karin Hurt, CEO of Baltimore-based executive coaching firm Let’s Grow Leaders. She wrote a book, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship with Your Boss, that you might find useful.

A good starting point: Assume nothing. The fact that this boss came in from the outside is significant, because it means he may be used to doing things in a different way. “A certain amount of micromanagement and what looks like ‘snooping’ may just be standard behavior in the organization he came from,” Hurt notes. “It’s annoying, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t like you.”

For the rest of the story, go to Fortune.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s the Solution to Deadly Office Meetings

Hate sitting around a conference table for yet another meeting? Well, one group of scientists has a novel suggestion: They think you should be standing.

That’s right, the stand-up meeting. Thanks to wearable sensors (devices similar to the Fitbit or Nike+ FuelBand), researchers from Washington University found that taking the chairs out of the room had positive effects on workplace productivity.

“Our study shows that even a small tweak to a physical space can alter how people work with one another,” says lead author Andrew Knight, an assistant professor at Washington’s Olin Business School. “We wondered how this type of arrangement would play out for people working together in a group to achieve a collective goal,” he says.

Knight found that when standing, meeting participants were more excited and receptive to collaboration.

This work builds on earlier theories that suggest people do better work when they’re not sitting still. A lot of people use metaphors like rat race, hamster wheel and so on to describe corporate life, but some experts claim using actual treadmills delivers benefits.

Devotees say moving while working taps creativity. There are treadmill-desk combos like the Steelcase Walkstation and the TreadDesk, made by an Indianapolis company. Last year, the AP reported that TreadDesk expected to see a 25% increase in sales, thanks to purchases by big companies ranging from Microsoft to Coca Cola to Procter & Gamble.

Knight finds that the idea that not sitting down can bolster the flow of ideas holds true in a group setting, as well. Subjects in a series of experiments who were told to work together in a room where the chairs had been taken out reported that their fellow collaborators were less territorial about their ideas and more willing to share information than a control group that collaborated while seated around a table. Members of the research team also rated how well the groups did on their actual tasks (developing a university recruitment video) and found that the standers turned in a better performance than the sitters.

It might sound strange, but there’s an extensive body of scientific research showing that a person’s posture has strong influence on how — and how well — they work.

“Your posture influences psychology, and that influences behavior,” says Andy Yap, a post doctoral associate and lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Yap conducted experiments and found that when we sit in tight, contracted positions — like squeezed into a too-small seat or hunched over our phone — we feel stressed and powerful, but standing in an “expansive pose,” with legs apart and hands on a table or on the hips, can make people feel more powerful. “Even though you don’t have to stand like Superman, having an expansive workspace would actually cause you to feel powerful,” he says.

“I think the implications are really important,” Yap says of the standing-meeting research. He adds that people being territorial about their ideas is a common problem that can derail good group collaboration, which makes the findings about standing relevant for anyone who has to work on team projects. “It might be cool to see if sitting in movable chairs could reap the same benefits,” he suggests.

Yap does offer one caveat to the standing-meeting concept. “One drawback about standing is that one’s physique become more obvious to the people in the group meeting,” he points out. Taller, bigger people are often unconsciously perceived to have more power, which could mean a shorter team member might not participate as much. “These physical attributes oftentimes affect interpersonal dynamics,” Yap says.

TIME Employment

10 States With the Fastest Growing Economies

Oil Boom Shifts The Landscape Of Rural North Dakota
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with 24/7Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

The United States economy grew 1.9% in 2013, down from the 2.8% growth rate in 2012, as growth in the world’s largest economy remained inconsistent. The largest contributors to the national economy were nondurable goods manufacturing, real estate and leasing, as well as agriculture and related industries.

While the U.S. economy grew less than 2%, the output of a number of states grew well in excess of 3% last year. North Dakota continued its torrid growth pace, leading the nation with a state GDP growth rate of nearly 10%. This year, Wyoming and West Virginia were the second- and third-fastest growing states, respectively, rebounding from slow growth in 2012. Based on data released this week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), these are the 10 states with the highest real GDP growth rates for 2013.

There were considerable differences in what drove national growth and what drove output in the fastest growing states, according to Cliff Woodruff, an economist at the BEA. “For the nation, it was nondurable goods manufacturing and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting [that] were the top two contributors to national growth,” Woodruff said.

On the other hand, in “five of the top states, [growth] was primarily a result of mining,” which includes oil, natural gas and coal production. Among these was Wyoming, the nation’s second-fastest growing state, where mining accounted for 6.1 percentage points of the state’s 7.6% growth rate.

MORE: The States With the Strongest and Weakest Unions

All of the top four states for GDP growth were among the top four nationwide in terms of the mining sector’s share of growth. Additionally, three other top states were among the top 10 for GDP growth contributions from the mining sector.

Outside of those states that benefited from mining activity, a few of the nation’s fastest growing states did follow the national trend, deriving a significant share of their growth from agriculture. Among these were Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, where agriculture and related industries added at least one percentage point to growth. These states were all among the top five nationwide for the contribution of agriculture to the states’ growth rate.

Outside the mining and agriculture sectors, however, these states often shared little in common. For example, nondurable goods manufacturing contributed 1.2 percentage points to Texas’ 3.7% GDP growth, a larger contribution than in most states. However, the sector contributed far less in most other fast growing states.

Similarly, Colorado, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Texas were all among the top states for construction’s relative contribution to output growth. However, construction output was a large drag on growth in both Wyoming and West Virginia, lowering GDP growth by 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively.

One common trait among a number of the fastest growing states, however, was a resilient government sector. According to Woodruff, “government was the largest detractor — if you will — from growth in most states.” While the government sector directly pulled down GDP nationwide, and served as a drag on output in all but 11 states, this was not the case in the fastest growing states. In fact, six of the top 10 growing states did not experience a drop in output from the government sector.

MORE: 10 Companies Paying Americans the Least

Strong GDP growth was also reflected in state job markets. The unemployment rate in all of the 10 fastest growing states was below the national rate of 7.4% in 2013. Each of the four states with the lowest annual average unemployment rates was among the 10 fastest growing states in 2013. This includes North Dakota, the nation’s fastest growing state, where the unemployment rate was just 2.9% in 2013. South Dakota and Nebraska, also among the fastest growing states, had unemployment rates below 4% last year.

Since having more people means more spending on goods and services, population growth often coincides with GDP growth. In fact, while the U.S. population rose just 0.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the population growth in most of the states with the fastest growing economies was well above that. Five of the six states with the fastest population growth rates were also among the top 10 for GDP growth.

Based on figures published by the BEA, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the fastest growing economies. The BEA’s state growth figures and the industries’ contributions to growth are measured by real gross domestic product, which accounts for the effects of inflation on growth. GDP figures published by the BEA for 2013 are preliminary and subject to annual revision. Real GDP figures for past years have already been revised. Population figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau and reflect estimated growth between the July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. We also used median household income from the U.S. Census Bureau. Last year’s unemployment rates are annual averages and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Home price data are from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Information from the Energy Information Administration was also utilized.

These are the 10 states with the fastest growing economies.

1. North Dakota

> GDP growth: 9.7%
> 2013 GDP: $56.3 billion (5th lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: 3.1% (the highest)
> 2013 unemployment: 2.9% (the lowest)

North Dakota has been the fastest growing state in the nation every year since 2010. In fact, the state’s GDP grew by 9.7% last year after it already grew by a stratospheric 20% in 2012 alone. The state’s oil boom, driven by hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — in the Bakken shale formation, has been responsible for much of this growth. Last year, mining directly contributed 3.6 percentage points to the state’s growth rate. Other growing industries, such as real estate and construction, have also contributed to the state’s growth. State residents have benefited from this growth. The state’s unemployment rate as of last year was just 2.9%, the lowest in the nation, while home prices were up nearly 28% over the past five years, also better than any other state.

2. Wyoming
> GDP growth: 7.6%
> 2013 GDP: $45.4 billion (2nd lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.0% (11th highest)
> 2013 unemployment: 4.6% (6th lowest)

Wyoming’s economy grew by 7.6% in 2013, just one year after its economy experienced the worst contraction in the nation. The fact that growth rates in Wyoming may be somewhat volatile should not come as a surprise. The state was the nation’s least populous last year, with slightly less than 583,000 residents.. Additionally, the state is highly dependent on the fortunes of the mining sector. Last year, 37% of Wyoming’s total output came from mining, the most of any state. The state’s budget is also highly dependent on taxes from resource extraction. Mining alone accounted for 6.2 percentage points of the state’s 7.6% growth in 2013. Wyoming leads the U.S. in coal production, and all eight of the nation’s largest mines are in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, according to the EIA. Wyoming is also among the largest states for natural gas production.

3. West Virginia
> GDP growth: 5.1%
> 2013 GDP: $74.0 billion (12th lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: -0.1% (the lowest)
> 2013 unemployment: 6.5% (18th lowest)

After shrinking by 1.4% in 2012, West Virginia’s economy grew by 5.1% last year, more than all but two other states. While West Virginia is well-known as one of the nation’s largest coal miners, the state is also a burgeoning source of natural gas. According to a report by the Bureau of Business & Economic Research at West Virginia University, the state’s coal production is expected to decline in the coming years, while natural gas production has risen dramatically and is expected to continue to grow. However, outside the mining sector, the state had little in the way of growth. Last year’s 5.1% rise in GDP was driven largely by the mining sector, which added 5.5 percentage points to GDP growth, meaning, on balance, the state actually contracted outside the sector. By one measure, West Virginia is among the poorest states in the nation. The median household income in the state was just $40,196 in 2012, lower than in all but two other states.

To see the rest of the list, click here.

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TIME

The Single Most Depressing Thing About the Recession Has Just Been Put Out of Its Misery

The most depressing jobs graph in more than 60 years has finally kicked the bucket thanks to the latest jobs report

The economy gained 217,000 jobs in May, bringing the total number of workers back to its pre-recession peak and finally putting one of the glummest graphs of job creation out of its misery. The graph created by Calculated Risk, below, shows that jobs in our current recession (the red line) took a longer and deeper dive than at any other point since WWII.

EmployRecMay2014

Now, with total employment 98,000 jobs higher than pre-recession levels, the red line is officially history, and hopefully won’t return any time soon.

Not that total employment is the final measure of workforce well-being. After all, the population has grown alongside the job market. The percentage of the working age population in the workforce is still at a decades-long low-point, as Calculated Risk shows compliments of another worrisome graph. There are still plenty of dipping lines to worry about yet.

EmployPopMay2014

Source: Calculated Risk

TIME Economy

Job Market Dropouts May Be Rejoining the Workforce

People who had given up on looking for a job may be re-entering the the job market, an encouraging sign for the recovery.

Even as unemployment rates have inched towards pre-recession levels, recovery skeptics have pointed to the high number of people who have given up looking for a job and are, as a result, left out of official employment numbers.

Now, there’s some evidence to show even that trend is reversing, Reuters reports.

The share of people who have a job or are looking for one rose in a majority of U.S. states in the six months leading up to April of this year, according to a Reuters analysis of government data, marking the first upswing in those numbers in six years.

The rising participation rate likely means that people who had given up on looking are now confident enough to re-enter the job market, an encouraging sign for the economic recovery.

The data is not conclusive, according to Reuters. But participation rates appeared to have risen in a diverse set of states, including Texas, Florida and West Virginia. The 32 states where the figures rose also represent a majority of the U.S. population.

[Reuters]

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