Ahead of Friday’s unemployment report, Keith Hall, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and former BLS Commissioner, explains what he’d like to see in the labor market data going forward:
- More of our prime working age population return to the labor force. At just 80.7 percent, the labor force participation rate for this group has been essentially unchanged this year. As this was 83 percent prior to the recession, we’d need to see nearly 2.6 million more of our prime working age population return to the labor force to indicate a full recovery.
- Stronger job growth. Despite the pickup in job creation, only 76.6 percent of the prime working age population are employed. This was about 80 percent prior to the recession – meaning we are still over 4.4 million jobs short for this group alone.
- More jobs converted from part-time to full-time work. The share of the jobs that are part-time remains elevated. So far this year, about 18.1 percent of our jobs are part-time. Though this has declined slightly, only 16.3 percent of jobs were part-time prior to the recession. This means we have over 2.5 million more underemployed, part-time workers.
- The long-term unemployed get a chance to work. The share of the labor force that is long-term unemployed remains at 2.0 percent. This is well over twice as high as before the recession.