The Truth About Unemployment Demographics (Part 1)

The story of 2018 has been a lot of great economic stuff packaged around a monthly government jobs report that doesn't add up (at least at first). The ADP private sector jobs report has been consistent and terrific showing 200k+ jobs being added for five straight months. The government jobs report looks like feast or famine from month to month. 

Over time, the massive revisions in the government's report closely mirrors what the ADP Report gives us from the beginning but the getting there is a wild roller coaster ride. Consider that in the previous two government reports jobs were revised up by 172,000 jobs from prior reporting and you get the idea. 

Expect a lot more of that in future months after this report. Here are some keys in the report: 

  • Headline unemployment rate 4.1% (flat for six consecutive months maintaining the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years and four months)     

  • 103,000 jobs added in March (weakest since September which was negatively impacted by the hurricanes) but actually higher than the 73,000 from March of 2017 

  • More revisions totaling a negative 50,000 jobs rolled in 

  • Average job growth for 2018 has been 202,000 jobs per month (which averages out to a number that compares favorably once again to the ADP info for private sector jobs) 

Top industries for hiring:     

  • #1 Professional & Business Services / Retail (added 33,000 jobs)       

  • #2 tie Healthcare and Manufacturing (added 22,000)   

Now for the real unemployment rate once underemployed and long-term unemployed people are accounted for:     

  • Actual: 8.0% down from 8.9% yoy 

Three additional relevant points:       

1. When the long-term unemployed & marginally employed are factored in - the real unemployment is still nearly double the base reported rate (though nearing historically low levels at 8%) 

2. The forgotten folks include 1.3 million are long-term unemployed, 5 million are underemployed (part-time seeking full-time work) & 1.5 million are marginally attached to the workforce - all categories improved in March 

3. The labor participation rate dipped to 62.9% (-.1%)  

In context this report looks better than it initially appears. 30,000 more jobs added than March of 2017, an average of 200k+ jobs per month through the first quarter of 2018 and significant year over year improvement in the real unemployment rate. 

In part two we'll look at the demographics of the unemployed...   

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