Aug 2, 2019

Yet More Good News for American Workers

The monthly BLS jobs report released today was one more piece of good news in a long trend—the longest ever—of uplifting labor market statistics. The breakneck jobs growth of 2018 (with 225,000 jobs added per month on average) has slowed to a more moderate pace in 2019 (165,000 jobs added per month on average so far), but is still rising about twice as fast as needed to simply satisfy population growth.

Employers added 164,000 jobs in July, with most of the growth occurring in education and health services (50,000) and professional and business services (38,000). The headline unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, but the labor force participation rate rose slightly to 63.0 percent as more workers entered the labor market. Average hourly wage growth also held steady at a rate of 3.2 percent year-over-year.

Even better news is available if you dig deeper into the labor statistics:

  • The number of persons who want a full-time job but are working part-time for economic reasons fell by 363,000, an 8 percent drop. These under-employed workers account for less than 16 percent of all part-time workers.
  • The number of long-term unemployed workers (whose duration of unemployment is 27 weeks or more) fell by 248,000. (It should be noted that there’s considerable month-to-month variability in this statistic, but the overall trend has been downward in recent years).
  • The comprehensive jobless rate—a Mercatus-developed measure of the highest possible unemployment rate (counting everyone who says they want a job, regardless of whether they’re actively looking or currently available to start working)—dropped to 6.6 percent. The total number of people who are involuntarily jobless fell by 191,000.
  • Although some wind has left the economy’s sails—likely due to in part to uncertainty regarding trade restrictions—there still seems to be substantial steam in the boiler, and that’s good news for American workers.

Quick Statistics from the July 2019 BLS Jobs Report

Headline Employment Statistics

  • Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 164,000 jobs.
  • The labor force participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 63.0 percent.
  • The headline unemployment rate (U-3) held steady at 3.7 percent.

Other Unemployment Rates

  • The mid- to long-term unemployment rate (15 weeks or longer; U-1) held steady at 1.3 percent.
  • The discouraged worker unemployment rate (U-4) held steady at 3.9 percent.
  • The comprehensive jobless rate (U-5b) fell by 0.1 percentage points to 6.6 percent.

Deeper Unemployment Statistics

  • The number of unemployed workers rose by 88,000 to 6.06 million.
  • The number of people who say they want a job but were not actively seeking work fell by 279,000 to 5.04 million.
  • Short-term unemployed workers (under 15 weeks) rose by 240,000 to 2.20 million.
  • Long-term unemployed workers (27 weeks or longer) fell by 248,000 to 1.16 million, accounting for 19.2 percent of those who are unemployed.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Employment Statistics

  • The unemployment rate for those specifically seeking full-time work increased by 0.1 percentage points to 3.6 percent.
  • The unemployment rate for those specifically seeking part-time work decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 4.3 percent.
  • The number of people who wanted to work full time, but who could only find part-time work for economic reasons, fell by 363,000 to 3.98 million (a drop of 13.2 percent over the last 12 months). The part-time workers who wanted full-time employment constituted 15.7 percent of all part-time workers.

Wages

  • Average hourly earnings (for all private, nonfarm employees) rose by 3.2 percent over the previous 12 months.
  • Average weekly earnings (for all private, nonfarm employees) rose by 2.6 percent over the previous 12 months.

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