The most disturbing jobs metric

The number that deserves more attention in the U.S. employment situation
 report (out this morning from the BLS like every first Friday), is the employment to population ratio.  It got worse last month, dropping to 58.3, which is unchanged for the last 30 months (!) and far, far below the pre-recession normal band of 62 to 64. Here is one of the charts I put put together to see it in context, and why I call this the ‘Zero Recovery’ —


5 responses to “The most disturbing jobs metric

  1. Pingback: Jobs Report Reactions

  2. Pingback: Another graph illustrating why it feels like the recession hasn’t ended « Nonprofit update

  3. Actually, a *much* better metric would be the employment/working-age population ratio. It still wouldn’t be perfect, but at least it would account for changes in the age groups that don’t typically work anyway (such as the very young and very old). Retiring Baby Boomers will probably reduce the employment/population ratio over time.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know if this number is reported anywhere.

    • Mark, you make a good point. Surely the truth is in a mix of stats, not any one “perfect” measure. Yet we all have bounded rationality, so the search is always on for the optimal mix of a handful of statistics.

      To take your point a step further, I wonder what “working age” means anymore? The elderly today should not be taxed extra, IMHO, for having the audacity to work past 65. While some of those work rules have been fixed, in talks with some seniors in my own family, there is still a fear that Uncle Sam will take away Social Security benefits for older workers. What a shame that was ever the case, and not just because it distorts our statistics!

    • I see your point about wanting to account for those that can work. However, this chart is more disturbing in the sense that it brings to light the heavy weight our social welfare programs are going to place on the portion of the population that does work. At what tax rate will the new “working age” population have to be taxed at to keep the same benefit level? The longer you tax a people and provide a benefit, the expectation will continue to rise.

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