March jobs report – ugly

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March jobs report - ugly

By Steve Eggleston

Before I get to the bad news, I do have some good news, indeed the best news though it is almost 2,000 years old. Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Have a blessed Easter.

On Fri­day, the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics released the March jobs report, and it was a stinker. The non-​farm pay­roll increased by only 126,000 on a seasonally-​adjusted basis, the fewest since Decem­ber 2013. More telling, the num­ber of employed increased by only 34,000 on a seasonally-​adjusted basis, with 96,000 peo­ple leav­ing the workforce.

The seasonally-​adjusted labor force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate slipped by a rounded tenth of a per­cent to 62.7%, tied with Decme­ber 2014, Octo­ber 2014, Feb­ru­ary 1978 and Decem­ber 1977 for the low­est since October’s 1977’s 62.4%, though each of those 4 months had a lower LFPR when rounded to the near­est hun­dredth of a per­cent. While the employment-​population ratio remained at 59.3% for the third con­sec­u­tive month, it was a weaker 59.3% as it slipped from 59.35% in Jan­u­ary to 59.34% in Feb­ru­ary and to 59.31% in March.

Lest one believes that the Great Baby Boomer Retire­ment spree has started, Zero­Hedge has the con­traindi­ca­tors, even if the more-​shocking con­traindi­ca­tor is vastly under­stated. Those over 55 accounted for far more than the 34,000 increase in employ­ment over the last month, with a gain of 329,000 jobs between Feb­ru­ary and March.

The under­stated por­tion is the com­par­i­son between the offi­cial start of the Great Reces­sion in Decem­ber 2007 and last month. I can’t dupli­cate his math, and the dif­fer­ing sea­sonal adjust­ments among the age groups make com­par­ing dif­fer­ent months of the year prob­lem­atic, so I’ll use not-​seasonally-​adjusted num­bers and com­pare March 2007 (the pre-​recession March high) and March 2015.

In March 2007, there were 145,323,000 peo­ple employed, 119,838,000 of them between the ages of 16 and 54 and 25,485,000 of them aged 55 and older. In March 2015, there were 147,635,000 peo­ple employed, 114,375,000 between the ages of 16 and 54 and 33,260,000 of them aged 55 and older. While there were 7,775,000 more peo­ple aged 55 and older employed last month than 8 years ago, there were 5,463,000 fewer peo­ple between the ages of 16 and 54 employed last month than in March 2007.

If one thinks that is because there are fewer young peo­ple around, guess again. There were 816,000 more peo­ple between the ages of 16 and 54 in the civil­ian non­in­sti­tu­tional pop­u­la­tion last month than in March 2007. Yes it is true that the elderly com­prise the vast major­ity of the pop­u­la­tion increase, with 18,231,000 more peo­ple aged 55 and older in the civil­ian non­in­sti­tu­tional population.

The employment-​population ratio bears that out. In March 2007, that was 73.6% for those between 16 and 54 and 37.4% for those aged 55 and older. Last month, while it slipped to 69.9% for those between 16 and 54, it rose to 38.5% for those aged 55 and older.

By Steve Eggleston

Before I get to the bad news, I do have some good news, indeed the best news though it is almost 2,000 years old. Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Have a blessed Easter.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March jobs report, and it was a stinker. The non-farm payroll increased by only 126,000 on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the fewest since December 2013. More telling, the number of employed increased by only 34,000 on a seasonally-adjusted basis, with 96,000 people leaving the workforce.

The seasonally-adjusted labor force participation rate slipped by a rounded tenth of a percent to 62.7%, tied with Decmeber 2014, October 2014, February 1978 and December 1977 for the lowest since October’s 1977’s 62.4%, though each of those 4 months had a lower LFPR when rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. While the employment-population ratio remained at 59.3% for the third consecutive month, it was a weaker 59.3% as it slipped from 59.35% in January to 59.34% in February and to 59.31% in March.

Lest one believes that the Great Baby Boomer Retirement spree has started, ZeroHedge has the contraindicators, even if the more-shocking contraindicator is vastly understated. Those over 55 accounted for far more than the 34,000 increase in employment over the last month, with a gain of 329,000 jobs between February and March.

The understated portion is the comparison between the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007 and last month. I can’t duplicate his math, and the differing seasonal adjustments among the age groups make comparing different months of the year problematic, so I’ll use not-seasonally-adjusted numbers and compare March 2007 (the pre-recession March high) and March 2015.

In March 2007, there were 145,323,000 people employed, 119,838,000 of them between the ages of 16 and 54 and 25,485,000 of them aged 55 and older. In March 2015, there were 147,635,000 people employed, 114,375,000 between the ages of 16 and 54 and 33,260,000 of them aged 55 and older. While there were 7,775,000 more people aged 55 and older employed last month than 8 years ago, there were 5,463,000 fewer people between the ages of 16 and 54 employed last month than in March 2007.

If one thinks that is because there are fewer young people around, guess again. There were 816,000 more people between the ages of 16 and 54 in the civilian noninstitutional population last month than in March 2007. Yes it is true that the elderly comprise the vast majority of the population increase, with 18,231,000 more people aged 55 and older in the civilian noninstitutional population.

The employment-population ratio bears that out. In March 2007, that was 73.6% for those between 16 and 54 and 37.4% for those aged 55 and older. Last month, while it slipped to 69.9% for those between 16 and 54, it rose to 38.5% for those aged 55 and older.