Friday, December 04, 2009

Unemployment: Record number Unemployed over 26 Weeks, Diffusion Index

by Bill McBride on 12/04/2009 11:09:00 AM

Two more graphs ...

Unemployed over 26 Weeks

Back in September, David Leonhardt wrote on the job churn rate in the NY Times:

Try thinking of it this way: All of the unemployed people in the country are gathered in a huge gymnasium that’s been turned into a job search center. The fact that this recession is the worst in a generation means that there are many, many people in the gym. The fact that the economy is churning so slowly means that there is not much traffic into and out of the gym.

If you’re inside, you will have a hard time getting out.
Yet if you’re lucky enough to be outside the gym, you will probably be able to stay there.
Millions of workers are still stuck in that gymnasium, and a record number of workers have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks.

Unemployed Over 26 Weeks The blue line is the number of workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more. The red line is the same data as a percent of the civilian workforce.

According to the BLS, there are a record 5.887 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (and still want a job). This is a record 3.8% of the civilian workforce. (note: records started in 1948)

Diffusion Index

Employment Diffusion IndexThe second graph shows the BLS diffusion indexes for total private employment and manufacturing employment.

Think of this as a measure of how widespread the job losses are across industries. The further from 50 (above or below), the more widespread the job losses or gains reported by the BLS.

Both the "all industries" and "manufacturing" employment diffusion indices had been trending up - meaning job losses are becoming less widespread.

Back in March, I pointed out the increase in the diffusion index was "a sliver of good news" in a very grim employment report. The diffusion index in March suggested that the situation was no longer getting worse.

Now the index shows job losses are less widespread. However this still shows a minority of industries are hiring, and the index will probably be above 50 when the employment recovery begins. (For more on how this is constructed, see the BLS Handbook)

Earlier employment posts today:
  • Employment Report: 11K Jobs Lost, 10% Unemployment Rate for graphs of unemployment rate and a comparison to previous recessions.
  • Seasonal Retail Hiring, Employment-Population Ratio, Part Time Workers
  • Last 10 Posts