Jun 30, 2020 - Economy

Almost half of the U.S. population does not have a job

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The percentage of Americans who are employed sits at just over 50%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment-population ratio. The figure plunged to 51.3% in April (the lowest level on record) and edged up to 52.8% in May.

The backdrop: The ratio was as high as 61.2% in January, but has fallen precipitously since coronavirus-induced lockdowns shuttered businesses across the United States.

  • The measure reached its peak in April 2000 when 64.7% of eligible American adults were employed.

What it means: While the BLS' jobs report categorizes people as "employed," "unemployed" or "out of the labor force," the employment-to-population ratio simply captures those who are and are not employed.

The intrigue: Torsten Sløk, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities notes, “To get the employment-to-population ratio back to where it was at its peak in 2000 we need to create 30 million jobs."

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