ASA’s monthly Advisor report, available to ASA member companies and produced by ITR Economics, delves into the employment climate in its February issue.

ITR notes employees are in high demand “as firms look to increase output during this period of accelerating growth in the macroeconomy. The problem many companies are facing is that with a low unemployment rate (4.1%) there are relatively few qualified candidates from which to choose.”

ITR adds the situation is unlikely to improve in the short-term. “Employment will grow at an accelerating pace in 2018, making the labor market even tighter,” ITR noted. “Firms will have to offer competitive compensation packages to attract new employees. This may include increased monetary benefits, but non-monetary benefits can also help your company stand out from the crowd. Focus on employee retention to mitigate the challenges that will come with hiring and training new workers.”

ITR suggests looking to creative and less costly methods to improve workplace climates and increase productivity.

Also from this month’s installment, the U.S. rotary rig count is rising at an accelerating pace; Both the natural gas rig count and the oil rig count are rising. ITR says the rig count will transition to a slowing growth trend in early 2018.

Wholesale trade, ITR notes, is growing at an accelerating rate for both durable and nondurable goods. Increasing commodity prices, ITR states, are helping to drive up the value of wholesale trade. ITR says wholesale trade will transition to a slowing growth trend in the latter half of this year. ITR reveals wholesale distribution came in at $5.674 trillion over the last 12 months, up 7.6% from the year before. “The trouble is that the tide will go out for this large segment of the U.S. economy,” ITR’s Alan Beaulieu says. “Make plans now for managing both cash and inventory levels in a slowing-growth environment in the latter half of 2018.”

ITR’s Leading Indicator and the U.S. Leading Indicator give evidence of “accelerating rise in U.S. industrial production into at least the third quarter of this year.” ITR adds, “If your business aligns with the industrial economy, plan for accelerating growth in your business through the first half of this year.”

ITR notes the ITR Consumer Leading Indicator and the U.S. Purchasing Managers Index point to slowing growth in the U.S. economy in the second half of 2018.