Strength in CPS Jobs and Unemployment Data

The CPS data was Strong for Men, Women, and Multiple Job Workers

The January Jobs report is marked by the situation that we will have very different Non-Seasonally Adjusted (NSA) data and Seasonally Adjusted Data story-lines. There are two data sets that go into the jobs report, or employment situation report, and they measure different things. The Current Population Survey (CPS) measures  jobs and unemployment data and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) measures workers and wages data. Normally January brings seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted data revisions for the CES data and only revisions to the seasonal factors, and therefore only the seasonally adjusted CPS data. We were advised months ago that the seasonally adjusted CES data was going to be revised down for the CES data with downward revisions for both the Private Sector CES data and the Non-Farm Payroll (NFP) CES data.  We did not trim as many NSA CES workers as expected.

The data was quite remarkable. The headline Seasonally Adjusted CES worker data was up 206,000 private sector workers and 225,000 seasonally adjusted non-farm payroll positions. Unemployment, part of the CPS data set, was at it's lowest unemployment rate since January 1967. So far, this column has written the following articles:

Another way to examine the workforce data is by age group.

Can we blame Boomers on the decline of the Participation Rate? There is an Economic Urban Legend that the overall workforce participation rate is declining because older workers are not participating at the rate that they were prior to the recession. This is wrong. Just because there were articles written during 2017 that said that 10,000 Baby Boomers were turning 65 each day, or just because there were 10,000 Baby Boomers who could be qualifying for Medicare and Medicaid each data, and that this could create a health care dillema, doesn't mean that these Boomers are retiring. The short answer is no.

We set a all-time record for workforce population in  four age groups this month. We have a record level of 30-34 year olds, 60-64 year olds, 65-69 year olds, and 70-74 year olds. We saw month to month and January to January declines in those 16-19, 20-24, 25-29, 45-49, 50-54, and 55-59 years of age. We set a January record for those over the age of 75.

We set January record for employment in five groups, and all-time records for two groups. We set January records for those 20-24, 25-29, and 30-34 year of age. We also set January records for those 60-64 years old and 65-69 years old. We set all-time employment records for 70-74 year olds and for those over the age of 75.

The Unemployment Rates, plural, are near record lows. Unfortunately participation is low in some age groups, too. Another Economic Urban Legend was that we were experiencing record low teen unemployment. We were also experiencing shockingly low teen participation during July 2017. That has been changing. Teen participation spiked this past July. The current U-3 unemployment rate is lower across the board compared to January 2008. Participation s lower in seven of the 14 age groups. The data that has been screaming for attention in the Legacy media is the participation drop in those 40-59 years of age. Also, they should not that the participation rate is up considerably for those over the age of 60 years old. It should be noted that Unemployment is highest among those under 35 years of age.

This column has discussed the age shift that has happened since 2005. Those who were 30-34 years old during 2005 were 35-39 during 2010, 40-44 during 2015, and are now 45-49 years of age. 

  • The 2005 group who were 30-34 (19.777M) are now 45-49 (19.900M)
  • The 2005 group  who were 35-39 (20.461M) are now 50-54 (20.165M)
  • The 2005 group who were 40-44 (22.629M) are now 55-59 (21.455M)
  • The 2005 group who were 45-49 (22.071M) are now 60-64 (20.779M)

It is this age group, 45-49 during 2005, that were hit hard during the Great Recession. So it depends on how you look at the information..

We are seeing record levels of January  workers (population) and January jobs for those over the age of 60.  We are seeing record levels of participation for those over 60 years of age. We are seeing low January unemployment for all age groups. Some age groups are "over participating" while others are "under participating." This is reflected in the "Effective Unemployment Rate - or U-7."

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