The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its May employment situation report. The report documented just how well the economy is doing. The labor market is booming. Some elements of the report set all-time records and most other elements were strong. Some of the details follow.
- The headline unemployment rate fell from 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent—an 18-year low.
- Black unemployment fell from last month's record 6.6 percent to a new all-time record of 5.9 percent by dropping an incredible 0.7 percent.
- Hispanic unemployment increased slightly to 4.9 percent from last month's record 4.8 percent.
- Female unemployment fell from last month's 3.7 percent to 3.6 percent—the lowest in more than 60 years.
- Average hourly earnings increased from an annual rate of 2.6 percent to 2.7 percent.
- Nonsupervisory wages increased 2.8 percent from a year ago for the largest percentage increase in nine years.
- The number of jobs increased 223,000 for the month of May, which was 67,000 jobs larger than April.
- The number of full-time jobs increased a huge 904,000, while the number of part-time jobs fell 625,000—all all-time record except for a few revisions in the 1990s.
- The participation rate fell from 62.8 percent to 62.7 percent as likely retirements more than offset the number of people entering the workforce.
In other news, President Trump has decided to implement steel and aluminum tariffs from Europe, Canada and Mexico. Implementation of the 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum had been postponed to allow for negotiation but will likely face retaliatory measures. A trade war could dampen the economy, as exports comprise a little more than 12 percent of our economy. Longer-term effects on the economy are dependent on whether President Trump is successful as he fights for more equitable trade policy.
Currently, the economy has a lot of positive momentum for the rest of the year. The 2.2 percent annual growth in the first quarter is likely to be the low for the year. Economic models from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta currently predict annual growth in the second quarter of 4.8 percent, whereas the Federal Reserve Bank of New York predicts 3.26 percent. CNBC's Rapid Update model is predicting 3.6 percent. The economy is good, but is likely to get better, as effects from tax reform and deregulation are more fully felt.
Christians should always have hope that things will be better, regardless of their current situation. Hope is motivational. A lack of hope creates sadness or even depression. Hopelessness provides opportunities for the enemy to attack our mind, which impacts our productivity, fruitfulness or even our faithfulness to the Lord. The world suffers from a lack of hope and experiences the consequences.
Wishful thinking is not biblical hope. Wishful thinking is often based on emotions, a lack of knowledge, delusions or deceptions. False hope can crush our spirit and causes pain, wrong decisions and even backsliding in some believers. Christians should be careful to avoid wishful thinking.
But the gospel is filled with true hope, the kind of hope which will not disappoint. Biblical hope is expectation of good based on the promises of God. It is part of the big three which Paul listed in 1 Corinthians: faith, hope and love. Biblical hope is irrevocably linked to faith, because faith is the assurance of things hoped for. We have the hope of salvation. All Christians should have biblical (true) hope.
"So now abide faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13).
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
" For we are saved through hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does a man still hope for what he sees?" (Rom. 8:24).
If we are going though tribulations and trials, we should have hope, because Jesus has overcome the world. It doesn't matter if the trials are physical, spiritual, material or anything else, Jesus is the answer. He is our healer, high priest, provider, comforter, protector, deliverer, advocate, God, Savior, Lord, Shepherd and King. True hope, which is of faith, is the answer. Jesus has paid the price. He has been given all authority and has given us the right to use it. The Bible is filled with promises, and they cannot fail.
"'I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world'" (John 16:33).
The Bible says we "overwhelmingly conquer" (Rom. 8:37, NASB; some translations call us "more than conquerors"). What does "overwhelmingly conquer" (or "more than conquerors") mean? It means that we will be more than victorious. We will arrive at the end of the trial (if we are faithful), in a better position than we began.
"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8;37, NASB).
If true hope is an expectation of good based upon His promises, what should we expect? The Lord promised that if we love God, all things (even challenges) will work together for our good. What now looks like a trial will eventually work to our good if we are faithful.
"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8: 28, MEV).
Let us exchange our wishful thinking and false hopes for biblical hope. His promises never fail. He is totally faithful. He cannot lie. The Lord loves us with a love, so perfect and all-encompassing that we cannot imagine it. Let us be true. Let us walk in faith. Let us be obedient. Let us embrace all of His promises and glorify His name forever.
"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 at Oral Roberts University.
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