Economic future getting brighter for students

By By Brandon Beifuss

Defying all attempted sanity and conventional post-Thanksgiving wisdom, I went shopping on Black Friday for the first time in my life. I might have cheated the system by leaving at 6 p.m., but the stores seemed just as full as any other day.

My observations were wrong. BIGResearch, a statistics-gathering branch of the National Retail Federation, reported that up to 134 million people went shopping on Black Friday, up from 128 million the previous year8212;a 4.5 percent increase in the population of shoppers.

On the national level, Black Friday weekend is seen as a predictor of the sales for the rest of the pre-Christmas holidays, and since consumption is a major driver of the U.S. economy, it seems to be recovering from last year’s plummet.

The U was no exception to the predicted increase in sales because of the many shoppers.

“Sales were up compared to last year,” said Mike Cherry, coordinator of marketing and communications for the University Campus Store. Revenue increased despite BYU hosting the rivalry game. No early-bird specials could be found at the campus store, however, as the hours of operation were not adapted for the thrift-thirsty mobs found during the typically high-selling weekend. The campus store was only open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cherry said some of the increased spending was for Christmas presents.

“Utah fans have been very good about owning their Utah stuff,” he said.

Moderate to slim sales increases are in line with national expectations. According to a Nov. 4 press release from the Federal Open Market Committee, the U.S. monetary policy board, “Household spending appears to be expanding but remains constrained by ongoing job losses.” The unemployed are less likely to spend for the holidays, but Utah is an exception to this norm.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics website preliminarily reports that unemployment in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area is 6 percent for September. According to the latest information, Utah has not been hit nearly as hard as other states, though that isn’t much consolation if you’re already a member of that percentile.

According to the BLS website, the United States has a 10.2 percent unemployment rate. Utah’s total unemployment rate, 6.2 percent, is about 40 percent smaller than the national statistics. Utah’s economy will not be as stunted and downtrodden by unemployment, according to the correlation drawn by the FOMC prediction.

With nearly 5,000 bachelor’s degree graduates last year, these are consoling statistics. A low unemployment rate means less competition for existing jobs, though the present low growth limits the creation of new jobs. However, baby boomers will continue to retire, requiring replacements, which means job growth will continue.

Utah has a better job environment than average, and the indications of growth mean a better job environment in the future. Although present predictions include a temporary rise in unemployment, Utah is still lagging behind the national average and remains well within functioning numbers. For that reason, this holiday is not as uncertain and fearful as last but retains a measure of predictability that allays employment worries for graduation and for graduates in the years to follow.

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