Jan 8, 2019

1 future thing: The prime-working-age labor problem

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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It's puzzling that so many prime-working-age Americans have withdrawn from the workforce.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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Women outpace men on U.S. payrolls

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: Men count was derived by subtracting women count from total; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

There are more women on American payrolls than men as of the latest U.S. jobs report.

Why it matters: The data reflects a hiring boom in industries that are female-dominated, while sectors that are more likely to employ men are lagging in job gains. The last time women overtook men in payrolls was “during a stretch between June 2009 and April 2010,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the milestone.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020

Wages for typical workers are rising at their fastest rate in a decade

Construction workers holding a rally in the Bronx. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wages for nonsupervisory employees — who make up 82% of the workforce — are rising at the fastest rate in more than a decade, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: It indicates that the benefits of a tightening labor market and a time of historically low unemployment rates are finally being passed along to most workers.

Go deeperArrowDec 27, 2019

U.S. economy adds 145,000 jobs in final report of 2019

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December, the government said on Friday, below economists’ expectations of 160,000. The unemployment rate held at 3.5% — a 50-year low — while wages grew 2.9% from a year earlier, the smallest gain since July 2018.

Why it matters: The U.S. job market held up in the final month of 2019, but heads into the election year with a slowing pace of job creation and wage growth.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020