Reclaiming Common Sense

The February Jobs Report was remarkable. The seasonal factors used to convert the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) Current Employment Statistics (CES) Private Sector Worker number to the Report Seasonally Adjusted (SA) CES number was the lowest since 1981. This was the highest level of NSA CES growth for the month of February since February 1999. This was the highest level of combined Current Population Survey Full-time and Part-time jobs for the month of February since February 2003. Participation increased. Unemployment decreased.

It was a solid report that was almost ignored. The effective unemployment rate (U-7)  that factors in the changes in the participation rate into the current unemployment rate (U-3)  dropped during February. President Trump has a similar participation rate as did President Reagan during February 1981. Participation Matters. Men are still struggling to find full-time jobs. "All the jobs" that men found during February were part-time jobs. They also lost full-time jobs. Women added both part-time jobs and full-time jobs. We have seen a decrease in participation rates for those under the age of 59 since February 2007. We have seen an increase in the workforce participation rates for those 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, and 75 years and older since July 2007. We also added jobs in twelve of thirteen sectors. You may have heard that we added construction jobs and manufacturing jobs. We added so many more jobs in more categories than was reported. The only sector where we didn't add jobs was in the Financial Services Sector - we also did not lose jobs in that sector.

One of the many untold stories during this recovery has been the story of those working two jobs.  This column has written many articles on the Multiple Job Holder (MJH) situation. People who hold MJH may hold a primary  part-time job and a secondary full-time job, a primary full-time job and a secondary part-time job, or two part-time jobs or two full-time jobs. We have been at or near record levels for those working two jobs all of last year. We have either had record or near record levels for those working two part-time jobs all of last year. There has been a considerable amount of discussion as to whether or not this is due to the 30-week being considered as a full-time job within the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare.  What happened this month?

Nearly 8 Million workers worked two jobs during February 2017. The collection of this data only stretches back to 1994. The highest February level, ever, was during 1999, during the surge to the "Dot Com" crash. Last February we only had 7.454 million people working two jobs. Are these people working because the want to work two jobs or because they have to work two jobs?

We set a February Record for those Working two part-time jobs.  We had over 8 million people working two jobs during the Summers of 1996. 1997, and 1998. We saw a similar surge during the Fall of those same years. Last year we set a record for the month of February. We broke that record this month with 2.180 million people working two part-time jobs.

We set almost set a record for  a record for the number  of people working a primary full-time job and a secondary part-time job for the month of February. The all-time February record was 4.536 million during February of 1995. We tied for second this year with 4.415 million workers. This may be for economic purposes or for health insurance purposes. Fewer people are working roughly the same number of jobs. record is October of 1998's 4.755 MIllion.

Are we working harder or smarter? Is this a sign of labor shortage or job shortage? All that is certain is more people are working two jobs now than prior to the Great Recession. We have a lower participation rate because fewer people are working more jobs.

It's the economy.