Mar 10, 2017

Two faces of the American labor market

Applicants at a job fair. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Happy jobs day! The Labor Department will announce its estimate for the number of jobs created in February at 8:30, and economists are expecting 200,000 new jobs and for the unemployment rate to fall to 4.7%. (Update: The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs and the unemployment rate did fall to 4.7%.)

Donald Trump thinks these bullish stats are fake news. In his address to Congress, the president highlighted the growing number of Americans over the age of 16 who are no longer in the labor force, meaning they don't have a job, but also haven't looked for one in a month or more.

Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Christopher Matthews' calculations; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

What bears say: The president, and some economists, have argued that the falling unemployment rate was not the result of an improving economy, but folks giving up looking for work altogether. Indeed, if the labor force participation rate of 2008 were in effect today, the unemployment rate would be 9.6% rather than 4.8%

What bulls say : They've dismissed the above argument, and are expecting higher wages and higher inflation because the pool of actually available workers is quite small. As Republicans take responsibility for the labor market, expect them to increasingly emphasize this view rather than the former.

Go deeper

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

Growing divide between the two Americas

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Life in the U.S. is increasingly divided into two realities — one in which things have almost never been better and another in which it's hard to imagine them being worse.

Driving the news: Bankruptcies led more companies to announce job cuts last year than at any time in more than a decade, WSJ's Aisha Al-Muslim reports (subscription), citing data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020

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