click for ginormous chart


Fascinating way to look at the breakdown of various parties in the US labor market, via Ritchie King of Quartz.

It shows U3 and U6 — the complete breakdown of employment status for all Americans age 16 and above, including: Full time workers, part time (by choice, and Involuntary) Unemployed (both looking and stopped looking), and Not in Labor Force.



Unemployment Reporting: A Modest Proposal (U3 + U6) (June 12th, 2008)


Category: Data Analysis, Digital Media, Employment

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

8 Responses to “State of the US Labor Market (in one big chart)”

  1. lalaland says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but does ‘do not want a job’ really mean that? Does it include housewifes and early retirees and such who have no interest in getting a job at all, or does it mean fully discouraged people who normally would be looking and employed?

  2. wisegrowth says:

    The best way to see the effect of underemployment is to look at the capacity utilization number.
    i actually multiply capacity utilization by the employment rate of labor (78.5% x (1 – 7.5%) = 72.6%). The result of 72.6% gives a great measure of utilization of labor and capital over time. I call this number the TFUR, total factor utilization rate. (Two for one…. is the idea.)
    My research shows that the Fed uses the TFUR to determine a lower bound of the Fed funds rate.

    • “TFUR” sounds very interesting as a metric. Do you have any posted research? I’m specifically wondering about the logic behind multiplying capacity utilization times the employment factor? Are you trying to capture all aspects of labor and capacity utilization, or just to generate an indicator that moves the same was as the comprehensive measure would move? Industrial capacity doesn’t capture all aspects of capital utilization, and the U-3 unemployment rate doesn’t capture all aspects of labor utilization. Perhaps there might be room to make the metric more comprehensive without making it too complex to track?

      P.S. I like the “wisegrowth” handle…

  3. VennData says:

    I install Asbestos in homes. That’s what I do. I don’t want to do anything else, to learn another skill. I am ANGRY at Obama for allowing foreign immigrants to come here and take all the remaining asbestos jobs. And Clinton. The Koch brothers have helped me and my family to cope with these horrible economic times brought on by Socialism.

    Separate Economics and State!

  4. It would be very useful to cast these employment numbers as a percentage of the total U.S. population, to figure out how hard folks are working on average (or in the parlance of the capitalists, how effective is U.S. “labor pool utilization”).

    The standard percentage that folks chart is based on the St. Louis Fed’s “Employment-Population Ratio” series, but that uses the statistically fudged “noninstitutional” population, as though we should just ignore all the “institutional” people.

    I think it’s better to work with the full demographics picture and then take time to understand the demographic wrinkles around aging population, immigration options, releasing prisoners and reducing military, and bringing more young people and second-earners into the workforce. In fact, given that the institutional population not only doesn’t produce (in the traditional sense), but also requires support from the working population, reducing that population (or making it more productive) could be a win-win. If we ever get into the political mindset to improve the economy instead of just fighting over who gets how much federal spending/taxation, look for solutions here.

    Meanwhile, despite the economic cheerleading in the media and the Fed-driven euphoria in stocks, bonds and real estate, the real (inflation-adjusted) median per-capita income and median household income are still depressed. Barry posted an excellent graph on this last November (see below):

    This was updated 2 weeks ago at the original source and looks no better thru March (or April):

  5. boogabooga1114 says:

    Great chart, but the reason I love this post is its link to the 2008 post on the same subject.

    A few friends with very strong political views have become downright obsessed with U-6 and how the administration is manipulating the jobless numbers to make the economy look better. It’s indeed obvious the most common unemployment rate doesn’t accurately reflect the strength of the economy these days. It’s also obvious it never has. But it’s fun how folks only notice U-6 when the other party’s guy is in the White House.

    No surprise to the present company, of course.

  6. mathman says:

    VennData: That’s hilarious!

    Here in PA it’s JOBS! JOBS! So some guy gets a job hauling fracking waste from the Marcellus Shale to Ohio (to dump it on a field, making it barren for a long time) and finds that the site won’t allow his truck in. Why not the trucker asks. Yard man shows him a geiger counter, pinned, and tells him “yer truck is so radioactive it’s off the scale!” Guy says “What?! Nobody tole me this shit was radioactive!” and drives back to the drilling site. Next day he’s not feeling too good. Subsequently he can’t work and his hair’s falling out, got all kindsa radiation poisoning, internal problems, etc.

    That’s the kinda jobs we’re talkin’ about. $20 and hour! Sign up now!
    Fracking wastewater can be highly radioactive

    PORTAGE, Pa. — Randy Moyer hasn’t been able to work in 14 months.

    He’s seen more than 40 doctors, has 10 prescriptions to his name and no less than eight inhalers stationed around his apartment.

    Moyer said he began transporting brine, the wastewater from gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, for a small hauling company in August 2011. He trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, and sometimes cleaned out the storage tanks used to hold wastewater on drilling sites. By November 2011, the 49-year-old trucker was too ill to work. He suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body.

    “They called it a rash,” he said of the doctors who treated him during his 11 trips to the emergency room. “A rash doesn’t set you on fire.”

    Moyer spent most of last year in his Portage apartment, lying on the floor by the open screen door because his skin burned so badly, while doctors scrambled to reach a diagnosis. He says the only thing that has helped ease his symptoms is a homeopathic tea recommended by others in the community who have similar symptoms.

    Today, he has a box brimming with doctors’ bills but still no diagnosis. Moyer believes he’s sick from the chemicals in fracking fluid and the ensuing wastewater — and from radiation exposure.

    And he may be right.

    Studies from the U.S. Geological Survey, Penn State University and environmental groups all found that waste from fracking can be radioactive — and in some cases, highly radioactive.

    (there’s more)

  7. phillips49 says:

    Markets, like people are subject to confirmation bias. If participants want a rally, they will focus on data that confirms their belief.
    So we have the most recent payroll data which shows a gain of 165,000 jobs. On the surface a positive result. Makes it easy for the cheer leaders to push euphoria. But ignored in the same report, is the decline in hours worked from 34.6 to 34.4. 0.2 hours may not seem significant, however do the math. It equates to -21,385,000 a week or the equivalent of a decline of 618,000 jobs. Not quite as pretty. The data is preliminary and subject to revision, as is all BLS data, but should be a caution since it means less cash for consumers.