Friday, January 08, 2010

Employment-Population Ratio, Part Time Workers, Temporary Workers

by Bill McBride on 1/08/2010 09:30:00 AM

Here are a few more graphs based on the (un)employment report ...

Employment-Population Ratio

The Employment-Population ratio continues to plunge, falling to 58.2% in December - the lowest level since 1983.

Employment Population Ratio Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the employment-population ratio; this is the ratio of employed Americans to the adult population.

Note: the graph doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

The general upward trend from the early '60s was mostly due to women entering the workforce.

The Labor Force Participation Rate fell to 64.6% (the percentage of the working age population in the labor force). This is the lowest since the early 80s.

When the job market starts to recover, many of these people will reenter the workforce and look for employment - and that will keep the unemployment rate elevated for some time.

Temporary Workers

From the BLS report:

Temporary help services added 47,000 jobs in December. Since reaching a low point in July, temporary help services employment has risen by 166,000.
Temporary Help This graph shows temporary help services (seasonally adjusted) and the unemployment rate. Unfortunately the data on temporary help services only goes back to 1990, but it does appear temporary help and the unemployment rate have been inversely correlated.

The thinking is that before companies hire permanent employees following a recession, employers will first increase the hours worked of current employees and also hire temporary employees. Since the number of temporary workers increased sharply, some people think this might be signaling the beginning of an employment recovery.

However, there has been some evidence of a shift by employers to more temporary workers, and the saying may become "We are all temporary now!", so use this increase with caution.

Tom Abate at the San Francisco Chronicle recently provided some caution on using temporary help as a guide:
BLS economist Amar Mann said an analysis by the San Francisco office suggests that employers are getting more sophisticated about using temp hiring as a clutch to downshift into recessions and upshift into recoveries.
...
"Employers are getting more savvy about using just-in-time labor on the way down and on the way up," he said
Part Time for Economic Reasons

From the BLS report:
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged at 9.2 million in December and has been relatively flat since March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
Part Time WorkersThe number of workers only able to find part time jobs (or have had their hours cut for economic reasons) declined slightly to 9.165 million.

The all time record was set in October.

Overall this is a grim employment report.

Earlier employment post today:
  • Employment Report: 85K Jobs Lost, 10% Unemployment Rate for graphs of unemployment rate and a comparison to previous recessions.

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