America's Jobs Juggernaut

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If you're unlucky enough to be without work these days, you're not alone -- but you may soon be. The American economy created 262,000 new jobs in April, and unemployment now stands at a bare 4.3 percent, the lowest since 1970. Only the manufacturing sector, which lost 10,000 slots, was chilled by the Asian currency crisis.

As Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan fears, this boiling job market may be heating the inflation pot. Greenspan needs to maintain low interest rates to keep capital flowing into the troubled Asian economies. But the Labor Department report says wages have jumped to a record $12.67 an hour. That's got to put the fear into the Fed. It's unlikely that El Niño can cause enough bad weather -- as it did in March -- to slow the job juggernaut again. Between keeping interest rates beneficial to Asia and raising them to nix U.S. inflation, Greenspan's bind just became much tighter.