Monday, January 11, 2010

Top 10 Monthly Job Losses As Share of Population

The chart above shows the top ten months since 1948 for monthly job losses (total nonfarm payroll) as a percent of the civilian non-institutional population (data here). The loss of 741,000 jobs in January 2009 was the second highest in BLS history back to 1948, second only to the loss of 834,000 jobs in October 1949. Adjusted for the size of population though the job loss in January 2009 ranks #8, and is the only month of job losses in 2008 or 2009 that was among the top ten months since WWII.

We hear a lot of news reports about jobless claims and job losses, but they are almost never adjusted for the size of the population, which has increased by 125% since the late 1940s. To put today's jobless claims or job losses in context, shouldn't we adjust for the size of the population?


At 1/11/2010 11:03 PM, Anonymous Charley said...

How about the raw NSA numbers, and then do your adjustment. And, let us not forget about the revisions coming in February. Finally, dump the birth-death modeling add-in.

At 1/12/2010 9:37 AM, Anonymous DrTorch said...

That's exactly what an unemployment _rate_ does.

At 1/12/2010 10:07 AM, Anonymous CompEng said...

Absolutely, but those numbers are out there too. They're just not headlines because they don't make good disaster porn.

At 1/12/2010 1:46 PM, Anonymous union thug said...

check 1

At 1/12/2010 2:18 PM, Anonymous Junkyard_hawg1985 said...


Looking at the numbers as a share of the population would not be a good number because the percentage of the population that is retired has risen significantly. By definition, these folks do not want to work.

A better statistic is the overall employment level. Take the current downturn and compare it to the 1981-82 recession. Employment peaked in April 1981 at 101.056 million. It reached its minimum in December 1982 at 99.032 million. This drop in employment was 2.00% of the initial employment level. By comparison, the November 07 employment report showed 146.483 million people employed. By December 2009, total employment had dropped to 137.792 million. This is a drop in total employment of 5.93% or almost triple the employment reduction in 1981-82.

The other point is that we don't know that December 2009 is the bottom. We only know it is the lowest point since the November 2007 employment peak.

At 1/12/2010 5:52 PM, Blogger rjs said...

Junkyard_hawg1985 has half the equation; the other half of the equation that inflates your percentage is that before 1980, most women were homemakers rather than part of the labor took reagan to "put america back to work", including every man, woman, & student...

At 1/14/2010 4:36 PM, Anonymous Junkyard_hhawg1985 said...

rjs is correct on the impact of women in the workforce affecting the % of population number. In 1948 only 33% of women were in the worforce compared to 51% in 1981 and 59% today.

For the record, most of the increase in women in the workforce occured before Reagan.


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