Jan 8, 2019

The prime-working-age labor problem

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

It's puzzling that so many prime-working-age Americans have withdrawn from the workforce. And the government forecasts that the problem is going to get worse.

The big picture: From a peak in the dot-com years of 1997–2001, the workforce participation rate for those 25–54 has steadily fallen, but the participation rate in this group actually has gone up since September, as the sizzling economy pulls long-term unemployed people into the job market, says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.

Yes, but: In the coming years, the BLS expects the rate to go back down.

  • In 2022, the BLS forecasts, 81.1% of people aged 25–34 will be working or seeking work, down from 83.7% in 1992; the rate will drop to 81.8% among those 35–44, from 85.1%; and to 79.9% from 81.5% for those 45–54.
  • Overall for those 25–54, the rate drops to 81% from 83.6% in 1992.

Be smart: Among the reasons for dropping out of the workforce are drug use, a felony conviction and a lack of skills after a long bout of unemployment. But in a paper last year from the Kansas City Fed, economist Didem Tuzemen also blames "job polarization" — a decline in demand for low- and middle-skill jobs, thus forcing people in these age categories out of the workforce.

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Coronavirus updates: First case in sub-Saharan Africa confirmed

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Nigeria confirmed its first novel coronavirus case in an Italian who flew to Lagos from Milan — the first known case in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization has been working to prepare Africa's health care systems to be ready for the outbreak, which is now also confirmed in Algeria and Egypt.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,850 people and infected over 83,700 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

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Ad spending on 2020 primary tops $1 billion

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Spending on the 2020 presidential primary has officially surpassed the $1 billion mark, with more than half of that total coming from billionaire Michael Bloomberg, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

Why it matters: It's the most money that has been spent this early on in an election cycle in U.S. history.

The growing coronavirus recession threat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In just a matter of weeks, top economists and investment bank analysts have gone from expecting the coronavirus outbreak to have minimal impact on the U.S. economy to warning that an outright recession may be on the horizon.

What's happening: The spread of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., and the speed at which they are being discovered has set the table for the outbreak to have a larger and much costlier impact.