Still catching up from my three weeks in the north woods, I can’t let the June employment report (released a week ago) pass without comment. The report can best be summarized by the word used over and over again in the report – “unchanged.” The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2%. Depending on which survey you believe – the establishment survey or the household survey – either the number of jobs created fell short of what’s needed to keep pace with growth in the labor force, or barely exceeded it. Following a small spurt of job growth from August of last year through February of this year, the labor market has been completely flat. The labor force participation rate (or per capita employment) is exactly the same as it was at the end of February – no improvement.
Here’s the data, both the government’s official data and my own calculation (designated with an “a”), which uses the same data but holds the size of the labor force at a constant percentage of the population, which strips away the effect of the tactic employed by the government to hold down the unemployment rate – claiming that workers have dropped out of the labor force.
U3 unemployment = 8.2%
U3a unemployment = 10.7%
U6 unemployment =14.8%
U6a unemployment = 19.0%
Unemployed Americans = 17,008,000
Per capita employment = 45.4%
(U6 and U6a are broader measures that include workers forced to work part-time instead of full time, those who have given up looking for work, etc.)
The following are the charts of the data and my spreadsheet calculation of the figures: Unemployment Chart Labor Force & Employment Level Unemployed Americans Per Capita Employment Unemployment Calculation
Just as disturbing to me as the weak numbers in this report is the lack of outrage in the media that follows. Americans are getting numb to the employment situation. It’s become the new normal. It’s now been nearly five years since the onset of the “Great Recession.” Now, a growing percentage of the labor force has never experienced anything other than these recession conditions. Few left in the labor market have ever experienced a healthy market with low unemployment, rising wages and improving benefits. Fewer and fewer are left to question what the hell is wrong. They see nothing wrong. To them, this is normal.