February Adds 36,000 Manufacturing Jobs as Most Industries See Growth

The manufacturing jobs market is warming up again after tepid growth in December and January. According to the latest Employment Situation report from the Department of Labor, manufacturing employment increased last month by 36,000 new workers compared to the 16,000 new manufacturing workers in January. The overall private economy, meanwhile, saw 678,000 new jobs as the unemployment rate dipped to 3.8%. The growth puts much of the employment economy within striking distance of pre-pandemic conditions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces the monthly report, noted that the unemployment rate in February 2020 was 3.5%, just 0.3% lower than it is now. Despite steady growth in the past year, though, manufacturing employment is still down by 1.4% compared to then. IndustryWeek

Gas prices surge overnight — biggest jump since Hurricane Katrina

US gas prices are surging at pace drivers haven’t seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The national average price for a gallon of regular gas stood at $3.84 a gallon Friday, according to AAA. That is the highest price since September 2012 and 11 cents higher than Thursday. Gas prices have soared 18 cents since Wednesday and 29 cents since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine eight days ago. Each of those increases marks the largest price hikes since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the US Gulf Coast in 2005, devastating the nation’s oil and gas industry, according to the Oil Price Information Service, which collects data from 140,000 gas stations nationwide for AAA’s price averages. With prices rising so rapidly, a national average of $4 a gallon, as well as the record $4.11 set in 2008, will probably be reached soon. CNN Business

Oil price shocks cause recessions. Will this one do the same?

Crude oil prices briefly surged to their highest levels since 2008 Thursday morning before pulling back a bit. Still, at about $110 a barrel, there are growing concerns that skyrocketing energy prices could lead to a severe economic pullback in the United States and around the globe. After all, soaring oil prices were one of the main reasons for recessions in the mid-1970s, early 1980s and early 1990s. Oil prices rose sharply before the Great Recession too; however, that downturn was more due to the subprime mortgage bubble bursting and the ensuing Global Financial Crisis Although supply shock concerns triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continue to rattle the global oil markets, some experts push back at the notion that rapidly rising oil prices will cause an economic slowdown. CNN Business

How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the global economy in a week

A week of war in Ukraine has rocked the global economy, as quick-fire Western sanctions isolated Russia, collapsed its currency and financial assets and sent energy and food prices soaring. Russia’s $1.5 trillion economy is the world’s 11th biggest, according to World Bank data. A week ago, it was doing a bumper trade in energy, exporting millions of barrels of crude a day with help from major oil companies. Western brands were doing brisk business in Russia, and investors were lending to its companies Now, a barrage of sanctions have made Russia’s biggest banks radioactive, traders are shunning barrels of Urals crude oil, and Western companies are fleeing the country or shutting up shop. Russian stocks have been kicked out of global indexes, and trade in some Russian companies has been halted in New York and London. CNN Business

Can Tampa Bay keep growing without losing its soul?

City planning leaders from across the country were impressed by what they saw on Central Avenue when Jason Mathis, CEO of the Downtown Partnership of St. Petersburg, took them for a tour last week. He pointed out the energy buzzing around local restaurants, boutiques and breweries. Afterward, those guests gathered at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art to discuss a pressing issue affecting the Tampa Bay area: The region is growing fast, but can it keep doing so without losing what makes it great in the first place? “What we have on Central Avenue is increasingly rare in America,” Mathis said. “And if people want to preserve that aspect of who we are as a city, we absolutely can do it. But it’s going to be hard.” Tampa Bay Times

Rural Alabama project pipeline sparks new growth — and optimism

ROANOKE, Alabama — Bryant Whaley, the top economic developer for Randolph County, is riding the momentum. Despite the disruptions of a global pandemic, this rural county in eastern Alabama has seen three major corporate growth projects since August 2020, creating over 330 jobs. Whaley, executive director of the Randolph County Economic Development Authority, is optimistic that even more economic activity is on the way. Recently, plans were announced for a retail development there that will create 40 jobs. He said Victory Game Clocks, a Roanoke-based maker of scoreboards, play clocks, practice timers and other sports timing devices, is considering an expansion with a new 20,000-square-foot building and 20 additional employees. He’s pumped about other developments, too. MadeInAlabama.com

Carnival cruising to return to Mobile, Ala., following COVID-19 hiatus

The site of Ginger Woechan’s vibrant mural of Mobile inside the Alabama Cruise Terminal put a smile on Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s face Thursday. But the mayor was already grinning from another impressive site earlier in the day: A cruise ship, that will take actual cruisers on a multi-day vacation, arriving into the port. “We hope a lot of cruisers around Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida will come here to embark,” Stimpson said during a media event inside the terminal two days from the first cruise excursion from Mobile since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic almost two years ago. AL.com

Another corporate headquarters is coming to Charlotte’s South End and bringing over 100 jobs

A new corporate headquarters is coming to South End. Brightspeed, a broadband and telecommunications company, said Tuesday it is establishing its headquarters in the east tower of Vantage South End, the 635,000-square-foot, mixed-use development just two blocks from uptown at South Tryon Street and West Carson Boulevard. Brightspeed plans to occupy an added approximately 27,000 square foot space in the building by the fourth quarter of this year, according to the news release. Construction on the new workspace will start in May. Charlotte Observer

Economic warfare is hurting Russia. But it’s risky for the U.S., too.

As Russian tanks roll through Ukraine, the United States and its European allies are responding to Russia’s military aggression through a sweeping set of economic sanctions, including the unusual step of cutting Russian financial institutions off the global financial system by kicking them out of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system. Weaponizing the financial and payments system is working better than many predicted, and President Biden rightly took credit for his administration’s leadership in the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Sweeping sanctions were the right opening strategy here. But our time working in government on sanctions issues also taught us that this approach poses clear risks — ones which the United States and its allies must prepare for and confront as the conflict drags on.

The Wahington Post

America’s Very Peculiar Economic Funk

I’ve been on a few trips recently and took the opportunity to do a bit of naked-eye economic assessment. As I’m sure many people can confirm, planes are flying full, while shops and restaurants are jammed. It definitely looks like a booming economy out there.

That’s also what the numbers say. In his State of the Union address, President Biden — while acknowledging that inflation has eroded wage gains — pointed to the 6.5 million jobs added last year, “more jobs created in one year than ever before in the history of America.” This claim was entirely correct.

The New York Times