On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the economy added only 20,000 jobs in February. In spite of that number being significantly lower than what’s needed to keep pace with growth in the labor force, unemployment fell – not by just 0.1%, but by 0.2% – to 3.8%. How can that happen?
It happened in large part because of some really good news – a piece of data that isn’t even a part of the unemployment report. The official explanation is that the labor force actually shrank a little in February, while the employment level, as measured by the household survey portion of the report, actually grew by 253,000 workers.
But you have to look beyond the employment report to find the really good news that made this happen. The employment report depends a great deal on the population estimate determined by the Census Bureau. And in December, the Census Bureau adjusted it’s estimate downward by nearly 1.2 million people – an unusually large adjustment. Why? A combination of factors that include the birth rate, death rate and, probably most importantly, the growth in the immigrant population, whether through legal or illegal immigration. It’s evidence that Trump’s crackdown on both categories of immigration is beginning to have an effect.
As a result, per capita employment has now grown for six consecutive months – something that has happened only three times in at least the past twelve years. (The longest such streak was July, 2011 through March, 2012 which occurred as the U.S. emerged from the “Great Recession” of 2008.) Here’s a chart of per capita employment since November, 2007: Per Capita Employment.
In addition, the Labor Department reported that hourly wages rose by an annual rate of 3.4%, the fastest pace of increase in quite a long time.
The point of all of this is that, in spite of the rate of growth in the U.S. population slowing and contrary to assertions by economists that population growth is vital to economic growth, there’s been absolutely no negative impact on workers or on the economy. Per capita employment is rising, along with wages. It’s evidence that the scheme of using high rates of immigration to suppress wages is beginning to unravel.