Saturday, June 02, 2012

Employment Report Graphs: Construction, Duration of Unemployment and Diffusion Indexes

by Bill McBride on 6/02/2012 11:53:00 AM

The first graph below shows the number of total construction payroll jobs in the U.S. including both residential and non-residential since 1969.

Construction employment decreased by 28,000 thousand jobs in May, seasonally adjusted. Not seasonally adjusted, construction employment increased 169,000 in May. This suggests some weather related "payback" in May, as opposed to a new round of job losses in construction.

Last year was the first year with an increase in construction employment since 2006, and the first with an increase in residential construction employment since 2005.

Unfortunately this graph is a combination of both residential and non-residential construction employment. The BLS only started breaking out residential construction employment fairly recently (residential specialty trade contractors in 2001).

Construction Employment Click on graph for larger image.

Construction employment appears to have bottomed, and should add to both GDP and employment growth in 2012.

Other construction indicators - housing starts, new home sales, construction spending - are all increasing (public construction spending is decreasing), and construction employment should also increase this year.

Duration of Unemployment

Unemployment Duration This graph shows the duration of unemployment as a percent of the civilian labor force. The graph shows the number of unemployed in four categories: less than 5 week, 6 to 14 weeks, 15 to 26 weeks, and 27 weeks or more.

All categories are generally moving down. The less than 5 week category is back to normal levels, but the other categories remain elevated.

Unfortunately the long term unemployed increased to 3.5% of the labor force in May. This was offset by a decline in the '15 to 26 weeks' category. Apparently a number of people just moved from the '15 to 26 weeks' category to the '27 week or more' category.

Diffusion Indexes

Employment Diffusion Index Diffusion indexes are a measure of how widespread job gains are across industries. The further from 50 (above or below), the more widespread the job losses or gains reported by the BLS. If there are employment gains, the more widespread, the better - even if job growth is slow. From the BLS:
Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
The BLS diffusion index for total private employment was at 59.4 in May, up from 55.6 in April. For manufacturing, the diffusion index increased to 54.3, up from 53.7 in April.

So job growth was a little more widespread in May than in April. A small positive.

Yesterday employment posts:
May Employment Report: 69,000 Jobs, 8.2% Unemployment Rate
May Employment Summary and Discussion
Employment Graphs