Friday, July 5, 2013

Some good national job numbers but a sobering bottom line

The U.S. Department of Labor reported this morning that the country added nearly 200,000 non-farm jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis in June. It also revised its estimates of job growth in April and May up to about 200,000 in those months.

The most recent figures continue a trend of solid, though hardly overwhelming (marginally whelming?) job growth. Overall, the U.S. has added 182,000 non-farm jobs per month over the past year.

Job growth certainly beats job decline. However, the growth figures are just barely exceeding the growth in the working-age population, which gives rise to the following sobering graph of the percent over time of the civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 16 and over that is working on a seasonally-adjusted basis:

At the start of the Great Recession, the percent of the adult population that was employed was around 63 percent. The rate plummeted during the recession, and since late 2009 has been mired at or below 58.7 percent. Despite solid job growth in the last two months, the June employment percentage was only able to creep back up to that 58.7 percent high-water mark.

The U.S. has been steadily adding jobs since early 2010, but there will be little cause for celebration until it consistently adds jobs fast enough to raise the employment-to-population ratio.