Employment Statistics in the US

A story on AP reports unemployment is up again, at 7.2 percent in December, "the highest level in 16 years", which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to you. Seeing the report reminded me of a statistic I had wanted to check, concerning employment under Bush. As the rest of the story is crazy long, I include it in the comments.

David commented:

I headed over to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and pulled up a handy graph, showing the (civilian) employment to population ratio since 2000:

which isn't all that pretty. Pulling out further, on a whim, yielded some very interesting results, however:

I assume the numbers reflect the growing participation of women.

Now, I noted that the statistics were 'civilian', and you may rightly have wondered about the growth of the military since 2001. I wondered that too, and went searching. And fell down a rabbit hole that required me to call the census bureau, and still not end up with the data I wanted. I figured the most logical question to ask is 'how many people are working age, and how many of them are working?' As it turns out this is a question you apparently aren't expected to ask. The BLS doesn't seem to compile data for people who 'aren't in the labor force' (a very convenient measure if you want to conceal certain groups - simply remove them from the labor force - this is why the 'unemployment' number is so problematic). And the census bureau doesn't deal with employment and thus the data they provide doesn't fit the question of 'working age' very well. But I grabbed a 'close enough' data set, and discovered that if you include the growth of jobs in state and local government (Sasha commented here that maybe Bush was a better Republican than we realized, if all the growth was in local, rather than federal, government, which led me to comment that perhaps this was the fatal flaw in Republican plans - if one government isn't growing, another one will), the employment rate for 2001-2006 (latest data I could find) is relatively steady, or even growing:

So there you go - more than you ever wanted to know about the current state of employment and unemployment in the United States.

on Fri Jan 9 14:12:22 2009

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