Monday, March 17, 2014

Employment Update: February 2012

The employment numbers for February appeared March 7, i.e., as always, on the first Friday of the month, but this time I failed to put them up. The gain in jobs, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (here), of 175,000 was welcome news after a rather dreary jobs report the month before. Less loudly noted was the fact that the January figure of 113,000 was also revised upward this month by 25,000. Therefore the net gain, since the last report has been 200,000 jobs. The picture looks like this:

The projected jobs performance for the year 2014, presented in the next graphic, is lower than in any earlier year of the recovery with the exception of 2010. The current pattern, based on two months of data, may change if the economy is bursting with hidden energy that a simple run of bad weather has kept indoors for the time being. We shall see. What I keep wondering about, now that we’ve entered the fifth year of recovery and still haven’t caught up with the 2008-2009 job losses (see below), is whether the old days of soaring consumption will return or not. The One Percent, after all, may have all the money, but they cannot carry the economy entirely on their own shoulders. How many $1,200 handbags can you purchase, after all? Eventually it gets a little boring. We shall see, of course, but in my life, anyway, I’ve never before seen such a doldrums as this one. Facebook and Twitter, we pray that you rush to our rescue.

A look at the performance of the economy’s broadest sectors is provided by the following tabulation:

As in much of the period of the recovery so also in February, the Goods-producing sector gained, in proportion of its total share of employment, fewer jobs than the Services-providing sector. And Government has done worse than either of the others. These days that’s par for the course. The current loathing of anything “public” or “public sector” is certainly not helping keep the nation employed.

Last I present the chart showing how many of the total jobs lost in 2008-2009 we have regained in the four-years-and-counting period since the Great Recession, sort of, faded. The total of jobs lost was 8.663 million; jobs recovered to date are 8.012 million. Almost there but not quite yet. We still have a sliver more to go. Then we can start creating the jobs that simple population increase dictates that we should have created in this same recovery period. Clicking on the image will enlarge it.

I posted some estimates in the summer of 2012 (link) on the jobs that need to be added just to keep up with population growth. For the period 2010-2020 that number turned out to be 87,300 per month—lower, thanks to structural changes in the demographics, especially an aging population, than in 1982-1992, when it was 149,200. Applying that number to the 50-month period since the Great Recession, we see that, as of this month, we should have recovered the 8.7 million jobs lost in 2008-2009 plus 4.365 million due to population growth alone. When my pie finally shows us having regained all of the lost jobs, I’ll start a new one to show how long we have yet to go to recover the number that demand for new jobs that has created since.