U.S. labor costs increased solidly in the second quarter as companies raised wages and benefits to attract workers, supporting views that high inflation could persist beyond this year amid supply constraints. The Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of labor costs, rose 0.7% last quarter after gaining 0.9% in the first quarter. That raised the year-on-year rate of increase to 2.9%, the largest gain since the fourth quarter of 2018.
U.S. consumer sentiment fell to a five-month low in July amid lingering concerns about inflation. The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index fell to a final reading of 81.2, the lowest level since February.
New jobless claims, which remained stubbornly high in Oregon last spring, are down substantially over the past few weeks. Fewer than 4,200 Oregonians filed new claims for benefits last week, the lowest number since October. The number of new Oregon claims is now below the average number of new claims in the 10 weeks before the pandemic. That’s a hopeful sign. Oregon’s jobless rate was near an all-time low until COVID-19 hit. The dearth of new layoffs this summer, combined with a steep fall in the number of people collecting benefits each week, suggests the state may have a path to get back to full employment.