Weak Employment in One Chart

Another weak jobs report with payrolls up only 80,000, unemployment stuck at 8.2 percent, and underemployment ticking up to 14.9 percent.

But the real news continues to be how far employment has fallen. As recently as 2006, more than 63 percent of adults had a job. Today, that figure is less than 59 percent:

With the exception of the past several years, you’ve got to go back almost three decades to find the last time that so few Americans were employed (as a share of the adult population).

The stunning decline in the employment-to-population ratio (epop to its friends) reflects two related factors. First, the unemployment rate has increased from less than 5 percent to more than 8 percent. That accounts for roughly half the fall in epop. The other half reflects lower labor force participation. Slightly more than 66 percent of adults were in the labor force back them, but now it’s less than 64 percent.

4 thoughts on “Weak Employment in One Chart”

  1. I suspect the aging population and retirement are also impacting the trend – in a permanent way. And I wish there were a way to include stay-at-home moms and dads in the “working” category.

    1. I agree. Separate from the cyclical issues, the 1980s and 1990s had the benefit of demographics bringing more people, particularly women, into the labor force, while the 2000s and 2010s have the reverse.

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