by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street:
Hardly any improvement for individuals since the Great Recession.
When Donald Trump campaigned on how “terrible” the jobs situation was, while the Obama Administration touted the jobs growth since the employment bottom of the Great Recession in 2010, it sounded like they were talking about two entirely different economies at different ends of the world. But they weren’t. Statistically speaking, they were both right.
Since 2011, the US economy created 14.6 million “nonfarm payrolls” as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – whether or not they’re low-wage or less than full-time jobs. But for individuals, this job market, statistically speaking, looks almost as tough as it was during the Great Recession.
Obviously, a lot of people have found jobs, and some of them have found good jobs since then, and there are a ton of “job openings.” But the Census Bureau just told us why the job market is still, to use Trump’s term, “terrible” when it released its population estimates for 2016, just before clocking out for the holidays.
According to this report: From the beginning of 2010 – in terms of jobs, the darkest days of the Great Recession – through December 2016, the US “resident population” (not counting overseas-stationed military personnel) grew by 16 million people.
But since the beginning of 2010 through November 2016, nonfarm payrolls grew by only 13.8 million.
Note that in 2010, nonfarm payrolls declined by 900,000, after having plunged by over 5 million in 2009. The first year with growth in nonfarm payrolls was 2011.
The chart below shows this peculiar relationship between the “resident population” of the US (top green line) and nonfarm payrolls (bottom blue line). Both rose. But the bottom line (nonfarm payrolls) didn’t rise nearly enough.
The difference between the two is the number of people that are not on nonfarm payrolls. They might be students, unemployed, retirees, or working in a job that the “nonfarm payrolls” do not capture (more on that in a moment). This is reflected by the red line, whose slope should head down in an economy where jobs grow faster than the population:
For the first five years of this seven-year period, the number of people not occupying a job as captured by nonfarm payroll data, kept growing (red numbers), even as the touted jobs growth was kicking in. Why? Because population growth outpaced jobs growth over the five years from 2010 through 2014.
Only in 2015 and 2016 has growth in “nonfarm payrolls” edged past population growth. Those were the only two years since the Great Recession when people on an individual basis actually had improving chances of getting a job.
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