Are Older Workers Pulling Down the Participation rate or

are Young Workers to Blame?

This column has already written a number of articles regarding the December Jobs report and the December jobs Report and the December data:

  • "Decidedly Good December Jobs Forecast.
  • "Final Jobs Report of 2018 was Stellar" explained how the non-seasonally adjusted Current Employment Statistics worker data  rose while the non-seasonally adjusted current population survey jobs data fell.
  • "Strong Worker and Wage Growth" explained how jobs growth could be a forward economic indicator.
  • "Five Presidents at 23 months" detailed how President Trump has added more full-time jobs during his first 23 months in office than former Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W Bush, and Obama... combined. It also examined the unemployment rate and participation rate
  • "Men and Women: Record Level of Dec. Jobs" examined the number of Full-time and Part-time jobs workers were working, as well as unemployment level, the unemployment rates, and the participation rates by gender. It also examined the multiple job holder data.

There has been considerable attention paid to the declining participation rate during the Obama Administration. It was proposed that this was due to a growing older worker population and retiring Baby Boomers? This article is a continuation of the "Red, Gay, and Blue Workforce" Series.

The Number of Jobs Worked was at an All-time High for December. This was not always the situation during the Great Recession/Recovery. The Total December Jobs data, non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) Current Population Survey (CPS) data, reveals that there were fewer jobs during December 2013 than we had during December 2006 and 2007. It also reveals that we had a December record of NSA CPS jobs for 20-39 year olds and for those 55 years of age and older. Our workforce is graying.

We have an elevated level of unemployed workers over the age of 55. The same NSA CPS data that revealed the combined full-time and part-time job data records also revealed a  unemployment problem for those 55 years of age and older. There are more people over the age of 55 who are unemployed now than we had unemployed in those age groups during December 2007.

Not All Age Groups added to their workforce population December to December. We saw workforce population drop for those 16-19, 20-24, 45-49, and 50-54 years of age.  We had a record level of workers over the age of 55. The data shows that we had the same level of workers 16-19 years of age as we had workers 65-69 years of age. They were working a similar number of jobs.

We have a failure to participate. The workforce participation rate is calculated dividing the combined number of employed (FT and PT CPS) workers and unemployed workers by the workforce population (Participation rate = (FT +PT+U-3)/Population.) The "Five Presidents series calculates the U-7 effective unemployment rate by comparing participation rates for two months and the levels of unemployed workers. If there are "missing participants," they are not working and "not unemployed,"  they are effectively unemployed.

We are missing more than 8 million workers 16 years of age to 55 years of age. We should have 8.199 million workers 16-55 years of age if we were participating at the same rate as we were during December 2007.  We have an additional 1.323 million workers who are 5 years old and older who are working now compared to December 2007. The "true" unemployment rate for teenagers is closer to 24% than it is to the official NSA U-3 just under 12.00%. We have a negative unemployment rate for those 60 years of age and up.

There are many ways to examine the jobs and worker data. Wages. Sectors, Full-time and part-time jobs. Workers. Unemployed workers. Older workers. Younger workers. They all matter.

It's the economy.

 Reclaiming Common Sense