Reclaiming Common Sense

Surprising Data within the Data Sets


This column published an article a number of years ago when the "Jobs Iceberg" was discovered. A question was asked at that time: "How many jobs have been lost since the peak of the Jobs Market during July 2007?" When the graph was created it displayed that at the lowest point of the Jobs Recession we had lost 14.452 million jobs and added nearly 5 million part-time jobs.  We spent from January 2010 through the Summer of 2016  recovering those lost full-time, and adding to them, jobs before those full-time jobs were lost again. When President Obama left office during January of 2017 there were fewer full-time jobs than we had during July 2007, nine and a half years earlier. This technique was used to address changes in employment for men and women, whereby the Male  Jobs Iceberg and the Female Jobs Mountain graphics were created. This was inspired by the "War on Women" dialogue of the 2012 election. Lately there have been proclamations made that we have historic low teen unemployment. What is forgotten is that we also have historically low teen participation. The newest proclamation is that we have historic "black" or "African American" unemployment rate  and historically low  "Hispanic"  unemployment rate. Do we?


So far this column has written numerous articles regarding the September Jobs Report, or Employment Situation Report.

How are African Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasian workers doing as of September?


The Hispanic Workforce has added the most new jobs since the recession. This column has made a distinction between jobs lost, Current Population Survey jobs, jobs recovered, and jobs added to the economy.  The Hispanic workforce only lost 1.081 million jobs during the recession. The Hispanic workforce regained those lost jobs by September 2011 and have added 6.6 million jobs since that time. Net-Net the Hispanic workforce has "added" 7.7 million jobs since January 2010.


African American Workers lost 1.664 Million jobs at the depth of the recession. If you look at their data you will find that it to the African American workforce until February of 2014 to recover their lost jobs. These workers have added nearly 3 million new jobs since that time. Net-Net the media will tell you that they have "added" 4.6 million jobs since January 2010.


Caucasian workers lost 8.1 million jobs at the depth of the recession. This is a little bit of a surprise except when you consider that there were 125,000 jobs for Caucasians during September 2017, as compared to the 21.7 million jobs for Hispanics and the 17.5 million jobs for African Americans. If you are working more of the jobs then it can be expected that you would lose most of the jobs during a recession. Caucasians did not recover all of their lost jobs until the Summer of 2017. Even so, they still lost jobs during December 2017, and January 2018, meaning that there were less Caucasians working during January 0f 2018 than July 2007. Net-Net: Caucasians have "added" 9 million jobs since January of 2010.


Are we at "Full-employment?" Full-employment has been defined as 5% unemployment for a number of years, if not decades. It is now thought that full-employment is 4% U-3 Unemployment.  The non-seasonally adjusted U-3 unemployment rates are 5.8% for African Americans, 4.28% for Hispanics, and 3.12% for Caucasians. It would appear that we are at full-employment for everyone except African Americans.


Are we at "Full- Participation?" One of the many memes that inspired this column was one that showed how the participation rate grew under former President Clinton and plateaued, then fell, under former President George W. Bush. (See "Four Presidents at 96 months: Participation Matters" for direct comparisons.) The short answer is no.  We had very Different participation rates at 20 months into the Presidencies of the most recent two-term Presidents:

  • Former President Reagan 64.01%
  • Former President Clinton 66.49%
  • Former President George W Bush 66.56%
  • Former President Obama 64.56%
  • President Trump 62.70%

What is full participation? Former President Clinton exceeded 68% at one point during his time in Office. Was that number artificially high because the workforce population growth was not as great early during his Presidency than was reported at the end of his Presidency? Is President Trump's participation rate artificially low because the population growth rate is the fastest it has been for the five Presidents, on an annual growth rate? the best way to compare unemployment rates is to factor in the participation rates during a specific month.


What is the real unemployment rate? If we hold the participation rate at the level we had during September of 2007, and we count those people who are neither as employed nor unemployed as "effectively unemployed," then the unemployment rates for the three categories of workers are all much higher than what is being reported. There are more missing participants than unemployed workers for each category of worker. The effective unemployment rate is lowest for African American workers and highest for Caucasian workers.


What About Full-time Jobs versus Part-time Jobs? This column first addressed this topic during April of 2017 with the article "Unequal Opportunity Recovery." The full-time and part-time jobs status by "race," we are all the same human race, was not recorded until January of this year.

  • Caucasians 100,314,000 FT Jobs, 21,365,000 PT Jobs
  • Hispanics  22,517,000 FT jobs, 4,588,000 PT Jobs
  • African Americans 16,430,000 FT jobs, 2,865,000 PT jobs

It will be interesting to follow this data over the next year, or more. How many full-time jobs will be added for whom? How many part-time jobs will be added or lost and for whom?


What does it all mean? All of the work groups mentioned have recovered their lost jobs that were lost during the recession. There are 11.3 million more Hispanic workers, 5.3 million more African American workers, and 11.8 million more Caucasian potential workers than we had during  since September 2007. There are 6.6 million more Hispanics working, 3.1 million more Caucasians working, and only 1.497 million more Caucasians working than were working during September 2007. If you find that heard to believe then here is the raw data regarding employment.  Participation is lower for all three ethnicities. The real unemployment rate, the effective unemployment rate is closer to 8% than it is to 4%. There is something happening here. What it is is unknown.


It's the economy,