America’s job market: still not good enough

Ben Walsh
Mar 11, 2014 21:23 UTC

On Tuesday morning, the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTs) data showed that the rate of hiring, turnover, and the number of open jobs was basically flat.

A little explanation: The hiring rate is the number of peopled hired as a percent of total employment. The JOLTs report also tracks the quits rate, which is the number of people who have voluntarily quit as a percent of total employment. Taken together, the quit rate and the hire rate represent a good proxy for the level of choice workers, particularly the already employed, have in the job market.

This chart shows that the level of choice in the job market within the workforce plummeted during the Great Recession. It has gradually improved over the last four years, but is still at right around 2008 levels. And this is likely still not fully representative of the job market: because it tracks quits, and there is a bias to hire the already employed, this chart more accurately reflects job choice among the employed than the unemployed.

Job growth is showing much the same pattern. Looking at the data since late 2011, the NYT’s Neil Irwin concluded that the “jobs recovery in the United States is astonishingly consistent, astonishingly resilient, and astonishingly underwhelming”, holding steady at an annual rate of just over 2 million:




The terrible December jobs report

Jan 10, 2014 15:29 UTC

The jobs report is out today, and it’s weak. The economy added 74,000 jobs in December — the lowest growth the economy has seen since January 2011 and far below the expectation of 196,000. Because of people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% from 7.0% in November. Here’s Reuters’ chart of U.S. non-farm payrolls over the last year:

One theory of why the job growth number was so weak in December, put forth by a number of people including Felix Salmon, is because of unusually bad weather. This chart from Justin Lahart shows the number of people, in thousands, who had a job but who weren’t paid during the survey week because of weather:

Former Labor Department deputy chief economist Jared Bernstein doesn’t think it had a big effect. In his analysis of this month’s BLS report he wrote, tThe BLS commissioner mentioned unusually cold weather as one factor possibly driving down construction, which lost 13,000 jobs after averaging +10,000 per month last year. But nothing else jumped out at me.”

The bigger problem is the number of people dropping out of the labor force. The Economic Policy Institute has a good series of interactive charts on those “missing workers” who should be either working or looking for a job, but aren’t. Here’s one on the age and gender of those workers:

Then, of course, there is Bill McBride’s updated chart of the current economic recovery compared to recoveries from previous recessions since World War II:

Finally, here’s the payrolls gap. At the current level of growth, it will take another 16 months to get back to the number of jobs the economy had before the 2008 recession.

Fewer Americans are getting laid off, but not enough are getting hired

Ben Walsh
Nov 21, 2013 15:25 UTC

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits is at a two-month low, data released by the Labor Department this morning shows.  From the report:

In the week ending November 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 323,000, a decrease of 21,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 344,000. The 4-week moving average was 338,500, a decrease of 6,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 345,250.

Reuters writes that the new data suggests “some strengthening of labor market conditions”. However, “while layoffs have slowed significantly to normal levels, there has not been a rapid acceleration in hiring as domestic demand remains lukewarm”.

Reuters charts jobless claims, as well as  average unemployment duration, and the labor market participation rate:







Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Schummer and the rest of the Democrats are not interested in creating jobs. They are interested only in things that advance them. If we had great economic conditions we would have low unemployment and good benefits and income for our families. The Democrats fight hard to keep Social Security, the Post Office and the like under government control so these can be used as political tools to advance the Democrats causes. This is why these institutions are in such dire financial shape. Things will be better when Obama is out of office and another party takes over unless we have a socialistic or communist party, which is where Obama is taking the U.S.

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America’s mediocre labor market recovery, in charts

Oct 22, 2013 13:13 UTC

Economists expected a gain of 180,000 jobs in September, while today’s Commerce Department data showed a gain of just 148,000 jobs. Here’s today’s disappointing results in chart form:


And here’s a look at America’s labor force, which has been shrinking over the last few years:


The Economic Policy Institute has this look at exactly who is leaving the labor force for various reasons:

Calculated Risk has updated this stark visualization of America’s job market:

As the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Strain noted, the 3-month moving average of job growth is looking quite ugly:


On a more hopeful note, Matt Phillips of Quartz has a good look at where job growth is happening:

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