Category Archives: US employment

8/5/20: The Path of a Tornado: U.S. Labour Force Numbers for April

So, BLS just printed their April 2020 numbers of official non-farm payrolls: And things are, expectedly, ugly.

Civilian 'non-institutional' population is up 1,203,000 y/y, while employment is down 23,384,000. Official unemployment i up from 3.3% in April 2019 to 14.4% in April 2020. Number not in the labour force are up 7,470,000 and numbers in unemployment are up 17,117,000 y/y. Which means that those out of employment are now up 24,587,000 year on year. Labour force participation rate is down from 62.7 in April 2019 to 60.0 in April 2020. In April 2019, 60.58 percent of the non-institutional American population was in employment. In April 2020 this figure was 51.30 percent. Which means that, excluding jails and military, almost 50 Americans out of 100 were not working even part-time.

Here's a summary of y/y comparatives by education status:

As the result of the massive wave of jobs destruction primarily concentrated in the lower wages categories of services workers, U.S. average labour earnings managed to actually increase (see a post on this from our friends at the Global Macro Monitor: In  fact, combined effects of exits from the labour force and unemployment increases for those with less than college degree amount to 74 percent (three quarters) of all jobs destruction compared to April 2019.

With this, based on the data through the week of May 2, 2020, total employment levels in the U.S. are now down to the levels of October-November 1999.

Meanwhile, things are going swimmingly for the financial markets recoveries:

Only foreclosures and evictions delays, unemployment checks and rent rollups are holding back a wave of mass discontent these days.

5/9/15: Updating America’s Scariest Chart

As you know I rarely post on the U.S. economy. But recently I was updating a presentation involving the state of financial flows for retail investors and savers around the world and had to check up on my old chart that I labeled America's Scariest Chart Redux (see previous update here).

Keep in mind the dominant media meme: the U.S. economy has been growing at a robust rate and the Great Recession has been officially over now for 74 months.

So where does the current unemployment duration (in terms of average duration in weeks) stand?

Err... average duration of unemployment in the U.S. is currently at 28.4 weeks.  Over 12 months period before the onset of the Great Recession, duration averaged 16.8 weeks. Which means that even today, a full 87 months after the start of the Great Recession, average duration of unemployment is 11.6 weeks longer than it was before the crisis. Current deviation from pre-crisis levels in average duration of unemployment is consistent with this measure of labour markets performance in months 17-18 of the crisis.

Worse, we are now (still) in a situation where people on unemployment benefits are staying in unemployment longer, on average, than in any other recession on record.

Now, let's revisit the 'official' former Scariest Chart - the index of employment also plotted by each recessionary period. This chart used to be published regularly, but since end of March 2014, U.S. employment index has finally reached pre-crisis levels of employment and everyone forgot the said chart. Too bad. Here it is, updated to the latest data:

And guess what? The chart above clearly shows that the current period of 'recovery' is still the worst in terms of employment performance than any previous recovery on record.

Just thought you would like an update...

7/6/15: Updating America’s Scariest Charts… The Ones You Forgot About

Remember the Old America's Scariest Chart ( and my own New America's Scariest Chart ( Well, a year ago, the formal one officially 'died'... as in disappeared from the mainstream media.

Question is: did it? Really?

So here is updating the Old America's Scariest Chart (and improving on the original) to current data:

Summary of the lessons from the above: America's jobs recovery in the current cycle is the worst on record for post-WW2 period in terms of recovering the jobs lost. It is second worst on record in terms of post-recovery jobs growth (the worst case being 1953 recession, which simply run into 1957 recession, but taking the two recessions jointly actually delivers better performance than the current recovery period).

And updating the New America's Scariest Chart:

Summary of the lessons from the above: yep, this cycle is also the worst in history for average duration of unemployment.

Happy recovery, U.S. of A. and a happier one, yet, to Europe.