The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its September Employment Situation report. Total payrolls increased 134,000 for the month (compared to 270,000 in August and forecasts of 185,000). Private payrolls added 121,000 jobs in September (versus 254,000 in August and pre-report expectations of 180,000). Manufacturing added 18,000 jobs (compared to August's 5,000, and forecasts of 15,000). The unemployment rate dropped from 3.9 percent in August to 3.7 percent in September—forecasts were for 3.8 %.
Other data in the report was little changed. Average hourly earnings increased at the previous monthly rate of 0.3 percent, which ended up being 2.8 percent for the year—in line with expectations. Average hours worked remained constant at 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.7 percent. The report was viewed as mildly disappointing by many because of the miss on total and private employment. But was it? The impact of Hurricane Florence on the Carolinas impacted the report. The labor market is incredibly strong.
Evidence of the labor market's strength is indicated by the following September labor statistics.
- The unemployment rate is the lowest since 1969.
- The number of unemployed workers is the lowest since 2000.
- Manufacturing job growth is the highest since 1995.
- The Hispanic unemployment rate (4.5 percent) is the lowest on record.
- Black unemployment (6.0 percent) is the second lowest on record.
- The female unemployment rate (3.9 percent) is a 50-year low.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) indicated that a record-high 37 percent of small businesses are raising wages. The previous record was 35 percent set in May 2018. A booming economy and an extraordinarily tight labor market is enticing small businesses to share part of the profits from lower taxes and a smaller regulatory burden with their workers.
As followers of Christ, we should always strive to share our blessings. God loved us enough to send His only begotten Son to reconcile us to Him. Jesus loved us enough to suffer and die for our sins on the cross. His love has never failed, and even on the throne, He continually intercedes for us. Jesus dwells in us via the Holy Spirit, which He sent to empower us. The Holy Spirit not only guides us, but allows us to operate with His love, and His power and with His discipline. We are commanded to become like Jesus, and that involves sharing.
In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul gave a discourse on sharing and giving. His subject was a special offering being collected for the church in Jerusalem, but the principles apply to much more than money. The principles apply to a lifestyle of sharing, not to meet some legalistic requirement, but to please the one who first loved us. Specifically, we don't share to gain His approval (we already have it through His blood and our faith), but we share to express our gratitude and love for Him.
In the eighth chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul enumerates some of God's principles of sharing. Reflection on these kingdom principles should help us to move from worldly sharing to God-ordained, God-directed and God-glorifying sharing.
- The Macedonian church first gave themselves to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:5).
- Even though the Macedonian church faced great affliction and deep poverty, their abundance of joy overflowed in the wealth of their liberality (2 Cor. 8:2).
- The Corinthian church was asked to give by grace, but not by commandment (2 Cor. 8:7-8).
- The Corinthians were asked to give with willingness, from what they had, not according to what they didn't have (2 Cor. 8:12).
- The Corinthians should give cheerfully as they purposed, and not grudgingly or under compulsion (2 Cor. 8:7).
- God will reward based upon the bountifulness of their gift (2 Cor. 8:6).
- God will multiply their seed, increase their harvest of their righteousness, enrich them in everything and produce thanksgiving to God because of their generosity (2 Cor. 8:10-11).
These principles can obviously be applied to money, but they can also be applied to other areas of our lives to His glory. Some of the ways they could be applied, in addition to money, are listed below.
- If we have a testimony that God answers prayers, perhaps we should share our testimony by praying for and with others.
- If we have been forgiven, perhaps we should share our forgiveness of others with them and share the knowledge of how to receive God's forgiveness.
- If God has healed us of disease or infirmity, perhaps we should share this knowledge with others.
- If God has granted us peace, perhaps we should share it with others.
- If we have received mercy and grace from God, perhaps we should share mercy and grace.
- If we know how to experience His presence, perhaps we should share our secret with others.
- If the Bible provides us with guidance and power, perhaps we should share the Bible.
- If God has loved us, perhaps we should share His love.
- If we truly believe that Jesus is all that He says He is, perhaps we should share Him.
"Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will men give unto you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you" (Luke 6:38).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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