Friday, February 04, 2011

US Employment to Population Ratio Continues Plunge

The latest employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the US employment to population ratio* fell to 57.6% for January 2011, down from 58.3% the previous month, and from 57.8% a year ago. The US employment to population ratio has been trending downwards since 2000.


Many economists believe that reporting the number employed as a percentage of the civilian population provides a more accurate description of the current state of employment than conjecturing the number of "unemployed" in a population. The US employment to population ratio reached a historical peak of 64.4% on an annual basis in 2000.

*The BLS defines employment and population (civilian noninstitutional) as follows:
Employment consists of all persons who, during the reference week (the calendar week including the twelfth day of the month), (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family, or (b) were not working but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs.

The civilian noninstitutional population consists of persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities and homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

9 comments:

Hail said...

Very interesting.

A problem with this measure: The U.S. population has a higher-share of retired-age persons today than ever before (right?), so we would naturally expect a slight down curve in recent times, all else being equal.

Dr William J McKibbin said...

Hi Hail, as more people retire and leave the employment, yes, this will contribute to a lower employment to population ratio. However, even despite those additions, the US employment to population ratio is declining at a alarming rate -- jobs were and are simply less plentiful in America today than they were prior to 2000 -- thank you for your comment...

FindAnISP said...

It would be interesting to see two graphs by sex. My guess is you would see the male employment ratio plummeting and the female going up as factory jobs have been replaced by health care workers and government adminsitrative workers. Millions of unemployed men loitering around with nothing to do is very unhealthy for a society.

Dr William J McKibbin said...

The US stock market is up and inflation is low, which implies that monetary policy (created by the Federal Reserve) is working -- conversely, the low employment numbers imply that fiscal policy (created by Congress with approval of the President) is failing -- it's that simple...

Virgil Bierschwale said...

now this is a great chart and it supports my findings, so I agree with you.

this is not good.

http://keepamericaatwork.com/?page_id=13788

Virgil
http://www.KeepAmericaAtWork.com

Anonymous said...

Surely some of the jobs picture over the past 10 years or so is due to the demographics: the number of ~40 year olds has been declining while the number of 25 year olds has been increasing. Not enough 40 year olds starting new companies to hire the 25 year olds.

Dr William J McKibbin said...

Hi Anonymous, whatever the reasons (democraphics, fiscal policy, monetary policy, globalization, etc.), the decade-long downward trend in the US employment to population ratio appears to be a meaningful measure of macroeconomic long-term change still underway in our nation's economy, for better or worse...

Matt said...

I read alot. I mean alot. I am not surprised at these findings and what the graphs depict of our current status in the U.S. labor/employment/population numbers. I came across this blog from another website talking about unemployment numbers and jobs as of this month.

I am unemployed, have been for 2 years as of June of this year. Do I enjoy it? Hell no. Sure, it's given me alot of time to improve on certain aspects in life, but for the most part it stinks. Have I forgotten my abilities to do every job I've ever done in the past, nope. Do I collect unemployment or welfare? Nope. Not a dime of assistance from anyone or any entity since I lost my job except that my wife busts her a@@ working 2 jobs. As a single household family we are suffering alot & the American dream is probably never going to happen for us.

Now, I've been unemployed for almost 2 years & I looked for work EVERY single day just about from June 2009 until November of last year. I had a few interviews but never got hired. Got letters even in the mail telling me I'm qualified or "overqualified" and they appreciate my time to interview. Jeez, how does a man who has always worked take that?

I am also a veteran, one would think it'd be easier for a veteran to get work. Ha! That's a myth my friends. Unemployment rates for us are higher than normal civilian rates. But I'm not one to complain, I just accept this economy for what it is. I worked in manufacturing as a shipping/receiving clerk for several years and I did other work along the way & before that. I went to college for a semester, am a high school grad and I served in the military for 6 years. What do I have to show for it? Not alot except for my memories & now I just wait for a "miracle" so to speak.

Giving up on my job hunt wasn't what I wanted but it's just impossible to find work. So life goes on. I carry on.

subduedjoy said...

@Hail. I thought your comment was a good argument; so I checked the age/population statistics for US residents. It turns out the percentage of people 20 to 64 has actually increased, albeit very little, from 2000 to 2010. While you are correct: we have more retired-aged residents in 2010 than in 2000, our population under 20 has declined too, more than offsetting the increase in retired-age residents.

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