The September employment report was disappointing. The monthly change in non-farm payrolls was estimated to be 156,000; more than 10,000 below both pre-report expectations and the August estimate.
The headline unemployment rate increased from 4.9 percent to 5.0 percent. Average hourly earnings increased 0.2 percent, but was about a third below pre-report forecasts. The average workweek increased to 34.4 hours from 34.3 hours in August.
The labor force increased by 444,000, in spite of 207,000 leaving the work force. The manufacturing sector lost 13,000 jobs, while business and professional services gained 67,000, including 23,000 in temporary services. The U-6 unemployment rate (that includes unemployed that have looked for a job in the last year and those that have part-time jobs for economic reasons) remained unchanged at 9.7 percent.
The report documented a large increase in the number of workers with part-time jobs, and workers that have multiple jobs. The number of part-time jobs increased 430,000 during the month of September, while the number of full-time jobs fell 5,000. The number of workers holding multiple jobs increased by 301,000 as workers strive to make ends meet.
The increase in part-time jobs reflects the desire of businesses to keep costs low and their reluctance to make a longer term commitment with health and retirement benefits. The increase in the number of workers with multiple jobs indicates a financially struggling labor force; full-time workers needing to supplement their incomes with part-time jobs while others attempt to piece together multiple part-time jobs to obtain a full-time income. Both factors point to economic trouble ahead.
In this culture, nearly everything is temporary or part-time. Too many marriages, church affiliations, relationships, jobs, loyalties and a host of other promises have a short duration. Similarly, too many commitments of dedication, diligence and fidelity have become part-time depending upon circumstances.
We are called to be disciples of Christ, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Too many professed disciples of Christ are part-time. On Sunday, they present the image of a consecrated, born-again, Spirit filled individual that loves the Lord and is on-fire for His will.
During the week, however, their actions and behavior more closely align with the culture of the moment than the kingdom of God. Others will conceal or even abandon their faith in Christ when open affirmation of His Lordship invites the displeasure or even wrath of others.
Still, others have never attempted to become fully consecrated. They read the Bible, pray and come to church when it is convenient. They will seek and praise the Lord as long as they are not too tired, it doesn't conflict with an important event—such as sporting events, movies, hunting—or become a burden.
Throughout the world, there are authentic disciples of Christ enduring severe trials and persecution because of their faith. These disciples are bringing the kingdom into the farthest reaches of the world. Their faithfulness did not come from dry legalism. True discipleship comes from a relationship with the King of Kings. Fruit comes from the empowerment of His Word and from the Holy Spirit.
From an eternal perspective, our time on the Earth is very short. Let us exchange part-time devotion for full-time, on-fire, Spirit empowered, love-directed discipleship where we will be fruitful.
"If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:7-8, MEV).
"As the Father loved Me, I also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, even as I have kept My Father's commandments and remain in His love" (John 15:9-10, MEV).
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that the Father may give you whatever you ask Him in My name. This I command you: that you love one another" (John 15:16-17, MEV).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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