Category Archives: COVID2019

2/4/21: U.S. labor force participation and employment to population ratio


In the previous post, I covered U.S. continued unemployment claims:, noting that decreases in unemployment counts are, in part, driven by workers dropping off unemployment rolls due to exits from the workforce and/or expirations of unemployment benefits. Here is the data on U.S. labor force participation rates and employment to population ratio through March 2021:

Things are still ugly when it comes to these two measures of labor markets health in the U.S: 

  • Latest reading for U.S. labor force participation rate at 61.5 is just a notch up on February's 61.3, but is unchanged on November 2020. Pandemic period average labor force participation rate is woefully low at 61.7, which is still higher than March 2021 reading. March reading is equivalent to the average reading for the decade of the 1970s which was marked by stagflation and high unemployment.
  • Latest reading for U.S. employment to population ratio is at 57.7 - an improvement on February reading of 57.3, and better than the pandemic period average of 56.9, but still comparable to the levels seen only in the early 1980s. 
Both metrics show the brutal nature of the current labor markets, where demand for skills is rising, including in manufacturing, while services jobs (and lower-skilled B2C services jobs in particular) are still hard to find.

2/4/21: COVID19: Nordics v Sweden

Sweden continues to perform poorly compared to peer countries, irrespective of how one defines Nordic countries as a group:

As table above shows, Sweden is the worst performer, by a large margin than any other Nordic or Northern European country when it comes to deaths from Covid19 pandemic.

Per charts below, adjusting for population differences, Sweden performs worse than any Nordic group of countries configuration imaginable in cases and deaths counts:

These facts are now recognized by policymakers in Sweden itself, even though the country continues to be a poster-child for the Covid19 denialists around the world.

14/2/21: COVID19 Update: Sweden and Nordics

Prior posts on COVID19 stats updates covered:

Lastly, let's run through comparatives for COVID19 dynamics in Sweden vis-a-vis the rest of the Nordics.

No matter how you define the Nordics:
  • As Sweden's closest land-linked neighbors of Finland and Norway (Nordics 1); or
  • Adding to the two above Estonia and Iceland (Nordics 2); or
  • Expanding the set to also include Netherlands and Denmark
there is only one conclusion than can be drawn from the above charts: Sweden is not doing too well in terms of cases recorded and in terms of deaths recorded through the pandemic so far.  Sweden's mortality rate per capita is substantially (86%) higher than that of the Nordics 3. 

Here is just how poor Sweden's performance has been:

4/2/21: U.S. Labor Markets: America’s Scariest Charts, Part 6

 Having covered some core stats relating to the U.S. labor markets in previous 5 posts:

  1. Continued Unemployment Claims (;
  2. Labor force participation rate and Employment-to-Population ratio (; 
  3. Non-farms payrolls (; 
  4. New (initial) unemployment claims data through January 30, 2021 (; and
  5. Average duration of unemployment (,
in this last post, we will focus on the overall employment index for the current recessionary cycle:

Currently, into month 10 data of the recession (December 2020), and employment index is reading close to the conditions in the recession of 1945, but better than the recession of 1953. We are still trending worse than any recession in modern period (post-Gold Standard), and that is quite an achievement (in negative terms). Dynamically, improvements in employment conditions have been flattening out from month 5 of the recession through month 8 and index improvements have slowed down to almost nil in months 9 and 10. Unless there is a significant reversal in this trend, by the end of 2021 we are likely to be around the same labor markets conditions as at the same time during the Great Recession. 

4/2/21: U.S. Labor Markets: America’s Scariest Charts, Part 5

 The first four posts on the state of the U.S. labor markets have covered:

  1. Continued Unemployment Claims (;
  2. Labor force participation rate and Employment-to-Population ratio (; 
  3. Non-farms payrolls (; and
  4. New (initial) unemployment claims data through January 30, 2021 (
In this post, let's take a look at the latest data on average duration of unemployment through December 2020:

As the chart above clearly shows, current average duration of unemployment spell is already higher than the peak of any prior recession other than the Great Recession. However, the duration remains relatively benign when we control for the business cycle (red line and the chart next).

Dynamically, it is hard to imagine average duration of unemployment to be staying around its current levels. Something to watch in months to come as an indicator of the direction of structural (as opposed to cyclical) unemployment.