June's Employment Report was a pleasant surprise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that the monthly change in nonfarm employment was a strong 222,000 (70,000 above the newly revised May estimate and 50,000+ above pre-report projections). In addition, BLS increased April and May employment by 47,000. There were more U. S. jobs in June than any time in history. The monthly change in private payrolls was also a pleasant surprise at 187,000 (28,000 above May, and 20,000+ above pre-report forecasts).
By sector, health care added the most jobs (37,000); followed by professional and business services (35,000), food services and drinking places (29,000), social assistance (23,000), and financial services (17,000). Little change was seen in construction, government, information, manufacturing, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale trade employment.
June's headline unemployment rate increased to 4.4 percent, compared with 4.3 percent in May. The higher unemployment rate was not a consequence of weakness in the labor market, but was the result of 361,000 individuals beginning to look for work. The participation rate increased from 62.7 percent to 62.8 percent.
The change in average hourly earnings was 0.2 percent from the previous month and 2.5 percent from a year ago. Both were below expectations. BLS also revised the May earnings estimate lower. The average workweek increased to 34.5 from 34.4 hours.
Overall, the Employment Report was a pleasant surprise. Changes in non-farm and private employment were well beyond expectations. The participation rate and the length of the average workweek both increased. Hourly earnings were disappointing, but earnings tend to be a lagging indicator in the labor market. More jobs encourage more people to enter/reenter the labor force which constrains wages. If the strength in the labor market continues, wages should begin to increase.
Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have a life filled with joy, peace, assurance, His constant companionship, acceptance, significance and empowerment — all good things. He also forgives us of our sins, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion, satisfies us with good things and renews our youth like the eagle's (Ps. 103). Faithful believers will have a next life filled with pleasant surprises. Revelation lists a few of these pleasant surprises which an overcoming believer will receive.
- An overcomer will eat from the tree of life.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give permission to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7).
- An overcomer shall not be hurt by the second death.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death" (Rev. 2:11).
- An overcomer will eat of the hidden manna.
- An overcomer will receive a white stone with a new name that only he knows.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except he who receives it" (Rev. 2:17).
- An overcomer will gain authority over the nations.
- An overcomer will receive the morning star.
"To him who overcomes and keeps My works to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
He 'shall rule them with a rod of iron; like the vessels of a potter they shall be broken in pieces'— even as I myself have received authority from My Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 2:26-29).
- An overcomer shall be clothed in white garments.
- An overcomer will have his name in the Book of Life.
- An overcomer will have the Lord confess his name before the Father and angels.
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments. I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 3:5-6).
- An overcomer will become a pillar in the temple of God.
- An overcomer will have the Lord write the Name of God, the New Jerusalem, and His new Name on him.
"He who overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 3:12-13).
- An overcomer will sit with the Lord on His heavenly throne.
"To him who overcomes will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 3:21-22)
The Lord has promised the faithful a multitude of blessings which we cannot imagine. His thoughts are higher. His ways are higher. But we do know that the faithful will receive more than we can ask or imagine. His lovingkindness is everlasting. An overcoming believer can expect a life and eternity filled with pleasant surprises.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8-9).
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us" (Eph. 3:20).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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