Thursday, June 6, 2013

New revision to the number of jobs needed to maintain a steady unemployment rate. The change is dramatic and of consequence!

When the monthly employment report is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) it reports the number of new jobs created and lost during the month and the change in the unemployment rate.  In a seemingly odd quirk, when there is a net gain in jobs created sometimes the unemployment rate goes down (as it seems it should) OR up (as it seems it SHOULDN'T).  How does that happen?

Variables such as a change in population due to birth rates or aging, new entrants such as high school or college graduates, immigration, can affect the number of people classified as part of the labor force.

In a recovering economy the only way to bring down the unemployment rate is to have net job creation that is greater than the number of new entrants/re-entrants into the labor force PLUS some that are already in the labor force but are currently classified as officially unemployed.

 Net job creation can be positive but unless it at least EQUALS the change in labor force then the unemployment rate will stay the same.  If less, then the unemployment rate will increase (ceteris paribus).

Previously in the media and in the economic blogosphere, economist have suggested that we need anywhere between 150,00 to 225,000 net new jobs just to keep up with the increase in the labor force.

A new study from the Federal Reserve suggests this number is MUCH lower, about 80,000 per month!

Here is a short excerpt.  The paper is very short and has some interesting graphs. I encourage you to read it to keep up on this important trend in the labor markets!

Estimating the trend in employment growth
For the unemployment rate to decline, the U.S. economy needs to generate above-trend
job growth. We currently estimate trend employment growth to be around 80,000 jobs
per month,
and we expect it to decline over the remainder of the decade, due largely
to changing labor force demographics and slower population growth.
View My Stats