Sunday, December 08, 2013

Graphs: Duration of Unemployment, Unemployment by Education, Construction Employment and Diffusion Indexes

by Bill McBride on 12/08/2013 03:31:00 PM

Friday on the employment report:
November Employment Report: 203,000 Jobs, 7.0% Unemployment Rate
Employment Report: Decent Report, Solid Seasonal Retail Hiring


A few more employment graphs by request ...


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.

The general trend is down for all categories, and both the "less than 5 weeks" and 6 to 14 weeks" are close to normal levels. 

The long term unemployed is at 2.6% of the labor force - the lowest since May 2009 - however the number (and percent) of long term unemployed remains a serious problem.

Unemployment by Education

Unemployment by Level of EducationThis graph shows the unemployment rate by four levels of education (all groups are 25 years and older).

Unfortunately this data only goes back to 1992 and only includes one previous recession (the stock / tech bust in 2001). Clearly education matters with regards to the unemployment rate - and it appears all four groups are generally trending down.

Although education matters for the unemployment rate, it doesn't appear to matter as far as finding new employment!

Note: This says nothing about the quality of jobs - as an example, a college graduate working at minimum wage would be considered "employed".

Construction Employment

Construction EmploymentThis graph shows total construction employment as reported by the BLS (not just residential).

Since construction employment bottomed in January 2011, construction payrolls have increased by 416 thousand.    According to the BLS, essentially no construction jobs have been over the last five months.  Historically there is a lag between an increase in activity and more hiring - and it appears hiring should pickup significant in 2014.

Diffusion Indexes

Employment Diffusion Index The BLS diffusion index for total private employment was at 63.5 in November, up from 61.1 in October.

For manufacturing, the diffusion index increased to 63.0, up from 56.8 in October.

Think of this as 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. 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.
Job growth was widespread in November (a good sign).  

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