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Data: The Conference Board; Chart: Axios Visuals

American workers are increasingly optimistic about their options.

Why it matters: Employers are scrambling to find workers as demand for goods and services has been booming.

By the numbers: According to the Conference Board’s July Consumer Confidence report, the net percentage of consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” climbed to a 21-year high of 44.4%.

  • That's derived from 54.9% saying jobs are “plentiful,” less a mere 10.5% that view jobs as “hard to get.”

State of play: All of this is occurring as U.S. employment remains about 6.7 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

  • To be clear, there are many who would like to work but are sitting out because of issues like virus concerns and child care.

What they’re saying: Importantly, the shortfall in U.S. employment is not for lack of demand.

  • “This points to a rapid turnaround in the labor market and suggests further declines in the unemployment rate in the months ahead,” Renaissance Macro Research economist Neil Dutta said of the Conference Board’s data.

What to watch: Wells Fargo senior economist Tim Quinlan says to keep an eye on the next few Consumer Confidence reports to see if this labor trend continues.

  • “As additional jobless benefits expire and kids return to school in coming months, these measures will offer early clues about how healthy job growth will be in the autumn months,” he writes.

The bottom line: Workers have a lot of leverage, perhaps even more so than they realize. They may want to take advantage of it while it lasts.

Go deeper

Corporations turn focus to retraining frontline workers

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Companies are narrowing the blue- and white-collar experience as they're forced to adapt to a worker-led market.

Driving the news: Basic office tools and concepts like corporate communications and schedule flexibility are migrating to frontline operations through investments in technology.

Instagram pauses development of platform for kids

Photo: Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Instagram announced Monday that it is pausing its plans to develop a version of its platform for children under 13.

Why it matters: Facebook has received backlash since the Wall Street Journal published a report that showed the company knew its Instagram app is harmful for teenagers.

Stock buybacks boom as corporate cash piles grow

The Delta variant is keeping more companies cautious about how to invest the mountains of cash they have at their disposal. That hesitancy has led, in part, to corporate spending on stock buybacks outpacing capital expenditures this year. 

Why it matters: Companies hoarded cash and raised prices over the past year — leaving them with a lot of money and decisions about what to do with it.