Tag Archives: Recession

Labor Day 2018 Fast Facts

About 92 percent of civilian workers with access to paid holidays receive Labor Day as a paid holiday. Before you set out for that long holiday weekend, take a moment to look at some fast facts we’ve compiled that show the current picture of our labor market.

Working

Working or Looking for Work

  • The civilian labor force participation rate—the share of the population working or looking for work—was 62.9 percent in July. The rate had trended down from the 2000s through the early 2010s, but it has remained fairly steady since 2014.

Not Working

  • The unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in July. After 6 months at 4.1 percent, the rate has had offsetting movements in recent months. In May, the rate hit its lowest point, 3.8 percent, since April 2000.
  • In July, there were 1.4 million long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more). This represented 22.7 percent of the unemployed, down from a peak of 45.5 percent in April 2010 but still above the 16-percent share seen in late 2006.
  • Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers was 13.1 percent in July, while the rates were 3.4 percent for adult men and 3.7 percent for adult women. The unemployment rate was 6.6 percent for Blacks or African Americans, 4.5 percent for Hispanics or Latinos, 3.1 percent for Asians, and 3.4 percent for Whites.

Job Openings

Pay and Benefits

  • Average weekly earnings rose by 3.0 percent between July 2017 and July 2018; adjusted for inflation, real average weekly earnings are up 0.1 percent during this period.
  • Civilian compensation (wage and benefit) costs increased 2.8 percent between June 2017 and June 2018; adjusted for inflation, real compensation costs decreased 0.1 percent during this period.
  • Paid leave benefits are available to most private industry workers. The access rates in March 2018 were 71 percent for sick leave, 77 percent for vacation, and 78 percent for holidays.
  • In March 2018, civilian workers paid 20 percent of the cost of medical care premiums for single coverage and 32 percent for family coverage.

Productivity

  • Labor productivity—output per hour worked—in the U.S. nonfarm business sector grew 1.1 percent in 2017, continuing the historically below-average pace seen since the Great Recession. Some industries had impressive growth, however, including wireless telecommunications carriers (11.1 percent) and electronics and appliance stores (9 percent).
  • Multifactor productivity growth in the private nonfarm business sector recovered in 2017, rising 0.9 percent after falling 0.6 percent in 2016. Labor input for multifactor productivity—measured using the combined effects of hours worked and labor composition—grew 2.0 percent in 2017, outpacing the long-term 1987–2017 growth for labor input by 0.5 percentage points.

Safety and Health

  • In 2017, 14.3 percent of all workers were exposed to hazardous contaminants. The use of personal protective equipment was required for 11.8 percent of workers.

Education

  • Occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry made up 21.5 percent of employment. This educational category includes registered nurses, teachers at the kindergarten through secondary levels, and many management, business and financial operations, computer, and engineering occupations.
  • For 18 of the 30 occupations projected to grow the fastest between 2016 and 2026, some postsecondary education is typically required for entry.

Unionization

  • The union membership rate—the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions—was 10.7 percent in 2017, unchanged from 2016. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent.
  • Total employer compensation costs for union workers were $47.65 and for nonunion workers $32.87 per employee hour worked. The cost of benefits accounted for 40.4 percent of total compensation or $19.23 for union workers and 29.1 percent or $9.56 for nonunion workers.

Work Stoppages

  • In the first 7 months of 2018, there were 445,000 workers involved in work stoppages that began this year. This is the largest number of workers involved in stoppages since 2000, when 394,000 workers were involved. There have been 12 stoppages beginning this year, which surpassed the 7 recorded in all of 2017.

From an American worker’s first job to retirement and everything in between, BLS has a stat for that! Want to learn more? Follow us on Twitter @BLS_gov.

Entrepreneurship Facts: Announcing New Research Data on Job Creation and Destruction by Firm Age and Size

I’m delighted to announce that we now have new research data on job gains and losses by firm age and size across industries and states.

For many years, policymakers, economists, and others have debated whether small or large firms create more jobs. Our Business Employment Dynamics program, which measures gross job gains and losses to help us understand net employment changes, informs that debate with data on firm size. A related question is whether startups or older establishments create more jobs. Again, BLS has a stat for that. We have data on employment and business survival rates by the age of the establishment.

While it’s useful to know the age of an establishment—that is, a single location of a business—for some questions, we need to know the age of the firm. A firm may include several or even many establishments. To understand entrepreneurship in particular, we want to know how both the age and size of firms affect job gains, job losses, and employment growth.

With these new data we can answer many interesting questions, including:

  • How much do older firms contribute to job growth? Firms 10 years or older created 800,000 jobs, or 29 percent of the total 2.7 million net employment gain in the year ending March 2015. See the chart below.
  • How much do startup firms contribute to job growth? In the year ending March 2015, startup firms—firms less than 1 year old—created 1.7 million jobs or 60 percent of total employment growth. More than half these jobs were from firms with fewer than 10 employees.
  • How does the age or size of the firm affect the rate of business closures? In 2015, 788,000 establishments closed. Of these, 55 percent were from firms 10 years or older; 16 percent were from firms 5 to 9 years old; and 28 percent were from firms less than 4 years old. Of the establishments that closed from March 2014 to March 2015, 91,000 of them, or 12 percent of the total, had 500 or more employees.
  • Which firm-age group accounted for most job losses during the last two recessions? Firms 10 years or older lost the most jobs during both recessions. Again, see the chart below.

net-job-changes-by-firm-age

The new research data measure annual gross job gains and gross job losses by firm age and size from March of one year to March of the next. We get the data on firms from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages by linking individual establishments over time. Besides firm age and size, we also measure establishment age and size. We have two methods to examine size. One method compares the current size of firms or establishments with the size at the beginning of the year (the base-sizing method). The other method compares the current size with the average size over the year (the average-sizing method).

I really want to know how you like these new data and what we can do to make them more useful. I invite you to explore the data and share your comments. Your feedback will help us develop the dataset and possibly move it into our regular production. Please write your comments below, or you can email the Business Employment Dynamics staff.

Visualizing BLS Data to Improve Understanding

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s the value of a striking, cool chart or map of some BLS data? At the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’re always thinking of better ways to help our users understand the information we produce. The global economy is complex, and the statistics to explain the economy can be complex too.

Data visualizations are one tool we use to present our data more clearly. What are data visualizations? They are any method of presenting numerical information visually—most commonly through charts and maps. Good data visualizations can improve understanding for all types of audiences, from students of all ages to experts with advanced degrees in economics, statistics, or other fields.

In recent years we’ve done more to include data visualizations in nearly all our publications. We have designed two of our publications to showcase data visualizations. One is The Economics Daily—or TED, as we call it. We publish a new edition of TED every business day, and we’ve done that since 1998. Each edition of TED typically includes a chart or map, sometimes two, with a few words to explain the data in the visualization.

Another publication geared toward data visualizations is Spotlight on Statistics. Spotlight tells a longer, more detailed story about a topic through a series of visualizations presented in a slideshow format. As with TED, Spotlight includes brief written analysis to explain more about the data.

Even our publications that feature mostly written analysis often include visualizations to tell a more complete story. Our flagship research journal, the Monthly Labor Review, has evolved a lot over its 100 years of publication to serve readers better; that evolution includes more and better data visualizations. Beyond the Numbers and BLS Reports often include visualizations as well.

We take pride in crafting our words carefully, but good data visualizations can complement the words. For example, during and after the Great Recession, the monthly Employment Situation news release has discussed the historically high levels of long-term unemployment. The number of long-term unemployed—those jobless 27 weeks or longer—has remained high years after the recession ended in June 2009. It’s one thing to read about long-term unemployment, but a good chart can tell the story even more clearly. long-term-unemployment

For an even broader perspective, we have a Spotlight on Statistics that examines long-term unemployment more fully.

Not only have we presented more data visualizations in recent years, but our visualizations also have gotten more sophisticated. A basic image can present information effectively. Take this simple map that shows the proportion of each state’s population age 16 or older that had a job in 2014. state-employment-population ratios

Now check out the interactive version of this map that we published in the March 9, 2015, edition of TED. When you hover over each state, more information pops up to show the state’s employment–population ratio in 2014 and how much it changed from 2013. When you hover over the items in the map legend, the states in each category light up more brightly to help you see the states with similar employment–population ratios. When you click on each state, you go to a webpage that provides even more information about the state’s labor market. Interactive features in our charts and maps give you the power to choose what information you want to see.

If you like the interactive features in our charts and maps, I think you’ll love the animation in some of our visualizations. Animation adds a time dimension to our data to let you see how measures change. For a great example of animation, see a TED we published last year that shows state unemployment rates before, during, and after the Great Recession.

The BLS website will feature even more data visualizations soon. Watch this space to learn more about them.

We share many of our data visualizations on Twitter, so follow us @BLS_gov. You also can sign up to receive email alerts for TED, Spotlight on Statistics, and our other publications.

And if you have created a great visualization of BLS data, please share it with us and the readers of this blog!

Society of Labor Economists 2014 Annual Meetings

I attended the Society of Labor Economists 2014 Annual Meetings in Arlington, Virginia, on Saturday, May 3. The Society of Labor Economists was established in the mid-1990s to promote the study of labor economics and to highlight the contributions of labor economists. Its membership includes several Nobel Memorial Prize winners and many other distinguished economists.

It was my honor Saturday to introduce one of those distinguished economists, Katharine Abraham—one of my predecessors as BLS Commissioner. Katharine, who is a Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, spoke to a lunchtime audience about “Diagnosing and Treating Structural Unemployment.” Long-term unemployment has trended down as the labor market continues to recover from the 2007–2009 recession, but the number of people unemployed 6 months or longer remains at historically high levels. Katharine used a lot of BLS data to challenge the frequent assertion that the United States has a widespread “skills shortage.”

As I introduced Katharine, I digressed to encourage attendees to ask their home institutions if they participate in BLS surveys. If so, they deserve sincere thanks. If not, I urged them to promote participation to do their part to ensure the continued high quality of BLS data.

After Katharine’s lunchtime discussion, I chaired a panel discussion about “Business Cycles and Employment.” The Great Recession was a hugely consequential labor market event. Between January 2008 and February 2010, the United States lost 8.7 million nonfarm payroll jobs. The unemployment rate rose from a prerecession low of 4.4 percent in May 2007 to a peak of 10.0 percent in October 2009. Thanks to recent innovations in U.S. statistics, this downturn and its aftermath can be studied in ways never before possible. For example, we now can look at measures of new firms that open, firms that close, and changes in the size of firms. We also can examine the flows of individuals into and out of jobs and the labor force.

It often has been said that we can’t solve problems that we can’t measure. I was proud to see so many analyses at the Society of Labor Economists meetings that used our latest and most innovative data to explore what is going on beneath the surface of our headline indicators. I am confident that this work will help inform our understanding of the labor market and the policies designed to address labor market problems now and in the future.

Recent publications and new K-12 Chart Maker tool

It has been another busy week with interesting new BLS publications and products. One item I want to draw your attention to is a Monthly Labor Review article that examines the rise in women’s share of nonfarm employment during the 2007–2009 recession. Back in January 1964, women held 31.7 percent of total nonfarm jobs. Women’s employment has continued to expand over the past half century and accounted for an unprecedented 50.0 percent of all payroll jobs in the last month of the 2007–2009 recession. Women’s share of payroll jobs held at that level for 11 consecutive months and then edged down; as of December 2013, however, that share was still high, at 49.5 percent. The author of the article, BLS economist Catherine Wood, examined trends in women’s and men’s employment during all previous recessions back to the 1969–1970 recession and found that men’s employment always declined at a greater rate than women’s employment. In fact, women’s employment even continued to increase during some recessions, although that was not the case during the 2007–2009 recession. Nevertheless, job losses among men outnumbered those among women by 2.6 to 1 during the most recent recession.

BLS also published a new edition of Spotlight on Statistics this week that presents a series of graphics on trends in income and expenditures during and after the 2007–2009 recession. In 2011, average household income exceeded the 2008 level in nominal terms (that is, without adjusting for price inflation). Similarly, in 2012, average consumer expenditures exceeded 2008 levels. While average income and expenditure levels have returned to prerecession levels, the gains have been distributed unevenly across income quintiles. (Income quintiles are five equally sized groups of households that have been divided from lowest to highest according to their annual income.) Between 2008 and 2012, the highest income quintile accounted for more than 80 percent of the total increase in household income in the United States, while the expenditure increases of the highest income quintile accounted for almost half of the total spending gains across all five quintiles during the same time period.

Last October I highlighted the new BLS K-12 pages, which provide classroom activities, games, quizzes, and more to make learning economics and statistics fun. The pages also provide information to help students learn more about career options. I mentioned that new material would be added to these pages regularly. This week we added a new Chart Maker tool that offers students and teachers a fun way to create interactive line, column, and bar charts.

Finally, I want to mention that we posted new information this week about the fiscal year 2014 budget enacted for BLS. I announced in late February that BLS will curtail the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the International Price Program in order to achieve the necessary savings for the 2014 funding level and protect core BLS programs. Since that announcement, discussions have been initiated to explore alternative federal sources of funding to continue producing and publishing the International Price Program export price indexes. BLS will continue to produce and publish these indexes through the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. Once the discussions to explore alternative funding sources are concluded, an announcement will be made concerning how the necessary data will be produced to avoid any disruption to the calculation of real Gross Domestic Product, which relies on the export price data.