Jobs, Sliced and Diced

Where they went, where they came from.

Employers added 164,000 jobs in April, seasonally adjusted, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on its survey of about 651,000 work sites of 149,000 businesses and government agencies. It was the 91st month in a row of gains, the longest such period in the history of the data.

The trend has been solid but not spectacular: For the 12-month period ended in April, employers added 2.27 million jobs (not seasonally adjusted). This is in the middle of the range since 2012. The chart below shows the 12-month change in payrolls going back to 2000:

The BLS publishes several unemployment rates, based on differing definitions. The data is obtained from household surveys, rather than employer surveys. Here are the two most often cited:

  • U-3, the headline unemployment rate with a narrow definition of “unemployment,” edged down to 3.9%, from 4.1% where it had hovered for half a year.
  • U-6, the broadest measure that covers U-3 plus people who are “marginally attached to the labor force” plus those employed part time who want to have full-time employment, edged down to 7.8% in April, from 8.0% in March.

The crucial aspect of these “unemployment rates” is that they’re not absolute measures of unemployment, and were never designed to be that. They’re indicators of trends in the labor market: Is unemployment rising or falling?

A different measure with the same trend, the number of “unemployed” in April fell by 239,000 to 6.35 million.

And so the labor market continues to tighten. But it’s tighter in some sectors, and shedding jobs in other sectors. The BLS provides a trove of granular data on these movements. By looking at the totals for the past 12 months through April, we capture the trends and avoid much of the monthly noise – to see which industries and governments created or destroyed jobs.

The chart below shows the total jobs by sector in April:

Note in the chart above that I have put education jobs at state and local governments into one category to get employment in education. I titled this category, “Education, state & local gov.,” the fifth largest category, with 10.9 million workers. Employment by state and local governments is then shown “excluding education.”

The Federal government, with a civilian payroll of 2.7 million people is way down on the list (military is not included). The Postal Service, which has been shedding jobs for years, cut its payroll by 5,500 jobs over the past 12 months. It accounts for 28% of civilian federal employment.

And here’s how these industries and payroll categories have either slashed jobs or created jobs over the past 12 months:

It might be surprising that “information technology,” a category with 2.77 million workers in April, has been shedding jobs over the past 12 months. While up on a monthly basis, the sector is down 25,000 jobs from a year ago. Many of these tech jobs are at companies that are not tech companies. And they routinely offshore their tech jobs or eliminate them as part of cost-cutting. Also, many actual tech companies go through job cuts after their numerous small and large acquisitions.

Federal government job losses are mostly attributable to the USPS (-5,500 jobs). Total state and local government employment, including education, has been increasing. But the number of jobs not related to education has been falling, and that’s what the above chart shows.

“Health care,” the behemoth that is taking over the US economy, created 303,000 jobs over the past 12 months, the most of any sector. “Admin & support services,” with 8.9 million jobs, is the second fastest growing category, with 272,000 jobs created. In the chart above, also note the jobs boom in construction and in manufacturing.

Even “retail trade” has added 76,000 jobs over the past 12 months. So what about the “brick-and-mortar meltdown?” Turns out, part of the retail industry is booming, and part of it is truly melting down:

The online-resistant sectors and online-related “nonstore retailers” are adding jobs: “Food and beverage stores” (with 3.1 million jobs), “Motor vehicle and parts dealers” (with 2.0 million jobs), “General merchandise stores & supercenters,” (with nearly 2 million jobs, including at Walmart, Costco, etc.), and gasoline stations (with nearly 1 million jobs).

Note that these retail jobs are those at the stores, not the corporate types, tech workers, warehouse workers, and truck drivers of the same companies. Those jobs are classified in different categories.

But the brick-and-mortar meltdown sectors (marked in red) – the heroes in my articles about store closings, bankruptcies, and liquidations – have shed a net of 60,000 jobs over the past 12 months, and they’re not done shedding, far from it, no matter how good the overall economy is.

There is nothing in this jobs report to slow down the Fed. Its QE Unwind is already ramping up toward cruising speed. These are getting to be serious amounts. Read…  Fed’s QE Unwind Accelerates Sharply

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  86 comments for “Jobs, Sliced and Diced

  1. alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

    Well, on the radio (NPR) today they said that the unemployment rate is down because people are dropping off the work rolls (no longer applying for unemployment, going on Disability, etc.) and if they say it on the radio, you can take it to the …. waitaminute…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The unemployment rate published today has nothing to do with unemployment compensation or disability. It’s based on household surveys. There were were 2.3 million more jobs in April than a year ago. That’s not bad.

      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

        Wolf – Nope, that’s not bad at all. And I actually see a lot of places hiring. Sure it’s dishwashing, retail, etc but a machine shop up the street always has a sign out saying they want “grinders” and “deburrers” etc.

        I do feel like things are better lately. People are falling off of the grid but at a lesser rate…

      • and more people left the workforce…

        (take this job and repurpose it?)

    • Setarcos says:

      NPR, the mushroom cultivators. Must admit, they do sound credible until you actually listen + think.

      • JD says:

        Yep … I did listen and think when listening to NPR and stopped listening years ago after thinking about what they had just said … it was a ‘debate’ about whether insider trading is good for the economy

        • sierra7 says:

          NPR “news” (in my opinion) is the MSM in “evening dress”. Nothing more.
          Caveat: I do enjoy recording Masterpiece Theatre and other “cultural” programs.

    • RangerOne says:

      NPR is about as dry and forth coming as it gets news wise. That being said a lot of “news” today is 5 minutes of news and then 30 minutes of talking about what a small group of people think about that news.

      Even then the talking is usually very calm and rational compared to TV news though no news station’s staff is capable of appealing to every mind set on every subject.

      I would simply posit that if some of posters here have determined that NPR as a whole is beyond repair as a news org then I think they probably have lost some perspective on what reasonable news means.

      There is plenty of news that is nothing but entertaining emotional appeals. NPR for the most part is not among them.

      • TropicalSunset says:

        I agree NPR has a lot less “noise” then the rest of the tabloids we call news. But I would bet if you polled the NPR staff, probably 95% or more identify as strongly liberal (just like most media & universities). No question there are going to be biases.

      • sierra7 says:

        “I would refer the right honorable gentleman to the bulldozing of the “First Persian Gulf War” under Bush sr. as a good example of “emotional” pushing for war as all other MSM newsreaders did. That’s when I personally nixed them forever.

    • MCH says:

      Sad to say that NPR lost me about two years ago when Marketplace decided to go from a show about business and the economy to NPR’s version of the Rachel Meadow show (I think I spelled that right).

      But I do agree with Wolf that the job creation is not bad at all. The only question is how much of the losses from 2007 to 2010 has been made up. I would note that way too many people use the unemployment rate as a metric. But I thought the report did not count the people who are “not actively seeking work.” So that particular metric isn’t quite as good. The other question is how much of the employment today is part of the gig economy vs the full time jobs that was lost a decade ago.

    • Tamara says:

      I’m in my sixties and I used to listen to NPR a long time ago before they axed the old management and put in the new one. I forget when that was. But back in those days, they didn’t have a problem with telling it like it really was. But once they did the major hatchet job thing, everything changed, and now NPR is just like all the other mainstream media outlets that are almost all owned by 5 to 6 major media conglomerates that all seem to follow the same line. The mainstream ain’t what it used to be.

      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

        Tamera – Ehhh, they seem to be getting saltier lately. I think the election really shook them up, shook a lot of people up, and I see them coming up with new programs and being a bit less boring than they were pre-election.

        Then there’s KPFA….

      • Night-Train says:

        Same here. There was a time NPR did excellent reporting with deep dives on subjects. I guess with management changes and a persistent feeling of an axe about to fall, what the hey, you write it-I’ll read it.

      • economicminor says:

        I use to listen to NPR every morning.. Then I found that I started saying to myself, often out loud, that what they just said was BS… That they overlooked a major point of view or that what they reported wasn’t what I was reading on sites like this one.. And I noticed more mainstream commercials..

        For the last couple of years, I turn it on once in a while but haven’t found the content as compelling as it use to be and I find myself not actually listening.. So it isn’t on.. Sad because I use to get lots of world news from them..

    • Ed says:

      Apparently, the labor participation rate HAS fallen the last two months.

      (I may be misunderstanding how NPR got the story wrong?)

  2. DB says:

    No comment on the actual Participation Rate here which reportedly is at 62%. Comments?

    • Kent says:

      I don’t know what the value is to participation rate. The participation rate in the ’50’s and ’60’s, which many consider the golden age, was far lower than it is today. We are a wealthy country. I work, my wife doesn’t. She doesn’t have to, so why should she?

      I tend to think the participation rate is lower simply because work kind of sucks. Who wants to go to work for $12/hour, to a job where you have to put your kids in day care, you get no pension, healthcare eats up a big chunk of your income, and you have to keep an expensive automobile in good-working order, all to make someone else rich. It just makes no sense.

      If you have to work that’s fine. But the unemployment rate shows that those folks are able to find plenty of jobs. Regardless of how crappy they may be.

      • RangerOne says:

        Did they even count women in the participation rate from the 50’s and 60’s?

        In theory the only participation number that matters is the percentage of people who want to work and cannot due for whatever reason.

        Quantity of jobs at a relative pay levels would probably be the most interesting. All this job growth over the last few years is not as good as it sounds if high paying jobs are being replaced with low wage ones.

        • Maybe, but “want to” is hard to poll for. Instead “looking for” is what they tend to ask, so people who want to work but no longer believe that looking is going to lead to a job — they simply vanish.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      62.8%. It has been in this range — between 62.3% and 63.0% — since 2014. This is the lowest range since the late 1970s. You can get more, including definitions here:

      • Hopefull Optimist says:

        I think it’s disturbing that the number of people counted as out of the labor force swelled by 410,000 to 95.74 million.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          On a 12-month basis, which is a less volatile metric, the number of people “not in the labor force” increased by 1.3 million. Why? Here’s a partial answer: there are about 75 million baby boomers, and they’re now retiring. Once retired, they’re “not in the labor force.”

          So it makes me wonder, why that increase of “not in the labor force” is so low. And there’s a partial answer for that too: Millennials are moving into the labor force in very large numbers.

  3. Cal says:

    Immigration destroys the ability of Americans to demand a living wage.

    • LouisDeLaSmart says:

      I appreciate your candid comment, thank you for being sincere. I was an immigrant and can tell it’s true and isn’t. Here is a few lines of what I have seen.
      The basic premise of modern Neo-liberal capitalism is cash mobility and work force immobility. Hence the system was designed to blackmail city/regional/federal governments into subsidizing large companies and do their bid. Short term benefits, for a long term loss – a politicians wet dream.
      Adding the context of american individualism that is propagated via mainstream media (because sharing is not cool, and everyone should own one of each) and the demise of labor unions, there is no one to oppose the system. And eve if there is, they are marginalized as socialists or something else.
      Loan based indentured servitude through astronomic housing prices, inflating healthcare and education cost, incentivize docile behavior…we all want our families to be safe, fed and enabled to join the workforce in the best possible way. If you are making ends meet, you can’t really quit your job or demand anything.
      (The following is first hand events I personally witnessed.)
      Additionally large loop holes are left to import extra labor at significantly lower cost through agencies (these are a problem) for jobs that there is enough of qualified workforce. I have seen people get jobs with 0!!!! IT experience and knowledge, getting jobs, based on fake manufactured CVs by agencies. If you are 26 and know 10 programming languages, you are a savant or a liar. When they would get a job, they would then again (!) outsource it and the agency would provide engineers from the source country who would teach the employee what and how is done, even doing part of his job.
      Other immigrants work hard for their degrees in STEM (only STEM can stay and find jobs in the USA), fight the system and try to get the few non-government/military related jobs out there. These are the best of the best and any country would be proud to call them theirs.
      Then there is the green card lottery which is a mystery to me…have no idea what that is about.
      And illegal immigrants…I don’t think those are very well paid jobs one could live off. It’s a question would those industries even exist without them.

      • Dan Romig says:

        Only one of my four grandparents was born in the USA (Springsteen song, eh). My maternal grandfather was 13 years old when he arrived at Ellis Island after the journey from Budapest. Seeing the Statue of Liberty finally, brought tears to his eyes!

        I am glad that you are here Louis.

      • Night-Train says:

        Every one of my family line American proginators arrived here prior to the Revolutionary War. And I still support reasonable immigration. It is who we are and how we got here.

    • AV8R says:

      Personally I don’t think you’re all that smart Cal. Lobbing a grenade in and waiting for the boom isn’t contributing. Because you don’t really care about immigration.

      Because immigration is an established American tradition. You oppose illegal immigration. Let me “help”. A person in our country without our consent and the credentials to prove so is an Invader. Not an immigrant of any kind. The narrative defining this distinction was lost when media were able to mischaracterize invasion as illegal immigration. Your point now is irrelevant thanks to societal adaptation of the phrase as a substitute.

      Enjoy. And shut up.

    • RangerOne says:

      The same camp of people who would agree with that statement also seem to think its awesome to crap on unions.

      I haven’t worked long and to a degree I have seen some of the stereotypes about union workers in real life, but we did seem to have a much larger well payed manufacturing middle class when there were unions.

      In most markets the problem doesn’t seem to be that people are willing to work for less, which is what you would expect if immigrants were lowering your job prospects.

      What seems to be happening for various reasons is that companies are unwilling to increase wages past a certain point for the majority of talent. And jobs that might once have been lucrative have stagnated in wage growth or vanished all together only to be replaced with low skill low pay work.

      Broken housing markets in cities with the biggest business booms also seems to have vastly degraded the value of an individuals paycheck.

      • > for various reasons is that companies are unwilling to increase wages

        Not “various”. Just one. COLLUSION.

        • Gibbon1 says:

          > COLLUSION

          You might find this interesting then.

          One thing they teach about practical business as opposed to the ‘free market fairies and ponies’ story from mainstream economics is in a lot of industries there is a global or regional price leader. Why this shouldn’t apply to labor rates would be beyond me.

          If you have one large employer in a region then the price they set for wages is going to have knock on effects for every other businesses wage rates.

          That is before outright collusion which is a given since business leaders belong to the same organizations, clubs and otherwise socialize with each other. Consider every city of note has a couple of large electrical contractors and like clockwork every 10-20 years they get busted fixing bids. I can’t think of a reason they wouldn’t also be colluding on wages.

        • Gibbon1 says:

          [If you have one large employer in a region then the price they set for wages is going to have knock on effects for every other businesses wage rates.]

          Revisiting. Compare two environments.

          When the price leader is a union shop


          When the price leader is a non union shop.

        • ScottS71 says:

          Interesting link. But I dont get the collusion comment. It clearly says their was IMPORT cost/price pressure. The data shows employer negotiating power in 54% of the concentrated areas, meaning too many workers (over supply) so they can offer lower wages. Isn’t this supply and demand?And if the Unions held wages higher wouldnt hurt sales/margins and make them unable to compete with imported goods? I think, the cause happened further up the food chain where goods came into the coyntry significantly under the cost to manufacture them locally.

      • Setarcos says:

        Which was cause and which was effect? … “we did seem to have a much larger well payed manufacturing middle class when there were unions”.

      • Maximus Minimus says:

        If unions were the problem, Germany would be toast. There, the management co-opted the union leadership by appointing them to the supervisory board. Now they have to look for solutions rather than looking for trouble. The same must apply to management.

      • sierra7 says:

        It is beyond me to read comments that try to explain why wages are not increasing as fast as corporate profits……it is due to the political/economic policies pointedly since the end of WW2 (Taft Hartley) thru Reaganomics clearly declaring war on unions, thru the adapting of the ideas of globalization. It has been very clear to me that those reasons give way to the “in your face” goal of the “crushing of American Labor to a world level playing field” in order for US businesses to compete in that globalized world. This toothpaste cannot be pushed back into the tube unless we adapt a clear policy of isolation which is another murderous war on the commons. It won’t happen.

    • MCH says:

      Wow, that’s so backwards, I don’t even know how to comment on it.

      Immigration does not destroy the ability of Americans to demand a living wage. Globalization does the destruction. If anything immigration has proven a boon to this country.

      Of course, you could call SpaceX, Apple, Google, Intel, among others nothing more than parasites and the destroyer of living wage. But then that would just demonstrate literally the depth of ignorance.

    • kitten lopez says:

      whoa! this is a money site and the emotional reactions to what Cal said is like a rorschach test because as a half Puerto Rican woman who knows that back in the day, Puerto Ricans were encouraged to go to leave the island and go to the U.S. as CHEAP LABOR. (weren’t other immigrants also encouraged to settle the former Indian lands and also work for cheap? it’s all baked into this cake, experiment, or nightmare–depending on your position in this country.)

      this is a capitalist system and thus dependent upon cheap labor since slavery was outlawed— unless you are a convict, which then led to lots of black men and poor white folks being swept up into chain gangs for more CHEAP LABOR. and the prisoners NOW are also slave labor.

      and while few americans wanna fight for the low end jobs, from what i can see here on the ground in the mission of san francisco, yeah… the low end jobs suck and the white collar job H1B1 visa system apparently IS “destroy[ing] the ability of Americans to demand a living wage.”

      Cal didn’t say to set people on fire. he simply made a statement that makes a lot of sense to me. but it’s not the immigrants’ faults. it’s the people in charge who wanna break the unions and drive down wages and go live on mars after laying waste to this planet once and for all.

      i’m not for abolishing immigrants; i’m for abolishing this destructive system of now-global capitalism that eternally pits us against each other instead of trying to listen to the PAIN and FRUSTRATION behind Cal’s sentiment. THAT is ridiculous. not what Cal said.

      • JD says:

        Bingo! Kitten gets the prize! The current system is pitting labor against labor globally along with arbitrating scales of economy between nations…
        Trade is supposed to be about trading goods and services what one cannot do due to lack of know how, capability, or natural resource availability … not global labor market arbitrage which defines the current scheme

    • Jon says:

      You are very misinformed Cal

      • ZeroBrain says:

        You disagree that illegal immigrants with whatever skillset will push down wages of citizens with the same skillset? I find that hard to believe.

        Illegal immigrants generally compete for jobs in the trades and unskilled labor. So the US citizens in the worst position economically are now facing additional competition. What’s so hard to comprehend?

        Please do leave a clever comment about my username.

    • Frederick says:

      Thank you Cal Very true statement in my experience anyway

    • Wolf Richter says:


      I’m an “immigrant.” OK, I was young when I came and went to HS in Oklahoma, and have been a citizen for longer than millennials have been alive, but still :-]

      But I see your point. There are a lot of things that need fixing in our immigration policies and enforcement.

    • Debt Free says:

      The U.S. had a 40 year moratorium on immigration from roughly 1925-1965. This includes the years 1945-1965, during which the average citizen was in a better position financially than they are today. Japan has practically zero immigration, and they seem to manage just fine.

  4. LouisDeLaSmart says:

    Manufacturing and Construction are doing well, and that is key to economic recovery (added value of final product by means of technology and innovation, enabled by infrastructure). I hope they are not just an extension of the growing housing bubble, but from this data we really can’t say.
    I am always fascinated how media propagates the idea of inefficient government, and yet the private healthcare system is now the largest employer in the US…and fastest growing as well…Talking about efficiency…?
    If the stock buyback could be curbed and better regulated (terminated if it were up to me), I am sure both ,these numbers ,and the reality on the streets would change for the better. To allow such wasteful in vain spending for now other reason then short term stock gains is just stupid. One needs to perpetually innovate, explore and challenge to stay ahead…buying stocks doesn’t do either of the three.

    • Paulo says:


      Thank you for your intelligent and perceptive comments.

      I think what Cal might have meant is that many employers game the system (and society) by playing groups off against each other. We sure saw it in Canada with our ‘ Foreign Workers Program’. In our case unionization is/was still high enough that the resulting protest stink forced the previous Govt. to cut back on it. Oil Sands operations were training welders in the Phillipines to learn a baseline of skills in order to be hired to compete against Canadian workers. Some companies (not all) tried to bring in iron workers from Poland, electricians from the Phillipines, etc as opposed to training unskilled Canadians for jobs that needed filling. Apprenticeships were cut back and training opportunities restricted. Aviation companies failed to train low-time pilots and immediately advertised for foreign pilots to ‘fill the gap’. There are also ‘Company Unions’, that is to say unions mostly in name only which cater to the whims and needs of corporations. Those unions said little when other people moved in and took Canadian jobs.

      I understand it is similar in the US with companies in the past even asking current employees to train their replacements; at least in the CA tech sector.

      Once certain attitudes gain common acceptance in language, it’s almost over. Phrases used often enough, after awhile are thought to be true. Phrases like: ‘Lazy Govt. workers’, inefficient, corrupt unions, lazy union workers, job stealing immigrants, lazy Mexicans, etc., all serve to divide and conquer; releasing the profits for a few on the top. My all time favourite is ‘socialized medicine’, (said with a sneer). Or, “No one is going to tell me what health care I am going to have”, (even if that means having none, or some unaffordable fascimilie). And of course there is the recent onslaught of ‘Fake News.’ :-)

      Critical thinkers with a few grey hairs understand that many people currently in the workforce will never afford a home, and barely get by as they live pay cheque to pay cheque. They also know that in the ‘next war’ the odds of a Congress member’s son/daughter going off to fight is almost nil.

      As an aside, my US veteran Dad was both an immigrant’s child, and an emigrant, himself. As a proud American son of German immigrants he earned a few medals overseas in WW2 fighting Nazis. As a proud father he left the US in 1968. I will leave it at that as this is not a poitical blog and no one would care, anyway.

      The pie is getting smaller and the lives of regular people reflect this. The low unemployment statistics obscures that fact, and politicians twist the numbers to serve their corporate masters. IMHO. But hey, what’s the use of cynicism if you can’t use it once in awhile:-)


      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

        Paulo – Indeed, in Silicon Valley/tech, it’s the norm for people to train their replacements before they’re laid off. Occasionally corporations make the extra effort to do this just before Christmas, or find some way to make it especially insulting and hardship-inducing (at the very least, it’s hard to get hired in the few months after Christmas).

        What’s funny is, if I decide to go and do something else than what I do now, I’ll find, as well as train my replacement because you can’t just hire Joe Blow from off of the street to do what I do and I don’t want to leave my friend who I work for, in the lurch.

    • Bart says:

      When you say manufacturing is doing well can you share how you arrived at that statement? Automation and globalization have adversely impacted manufacturing in the United States. Perhaps if wages in the manufacturing sector had not risen as they have the past 40 years and some of the regulation had not been imposed this would not be the case but you can’t pay a US worker third world wages as they cannot live on that. Take a look at Detroit, Gary, Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh. I know times changes but in these places, manufacturing is a shadow of what it once was. Compound this with the growth of AI and robotic advances that will shortly make the payback < 1 year for a robot that can perform intricate tasks and it will have consequences. We can point fingers all day and there is much blame to go around but there is a problem that needs to be addressed. BTW, why not take all the unemployed who receive government money and have them start building roads, bridges and picking up litter.

      • LouisDeLaSmart says:

        If you take into account all the trends you have listed and then look at the data Wolf provided you will see a 250k job increase in the manufacturing sector. You will say it’s not much, but I say that for a sector that is expected to go down (and go down fast and furious) any increase in employment number is considered doing well … in my mind.
        Although AI sounds cool, they are computationally very heavy and have a very limited span of capabilities. Just like robots, it will take decades before they become widespread in use for both economic and political reasons. Think of the notion how long a system would survive with 50% unemployment? This in my mind is a scare tactics to make people fear for their employment.

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      I suspect, the increased healthcare spending has something to do with the obesity epidemic, and related diseases. Plus lots of baby boomers with accumulated wealth, and life expectations. With decreased wealth creation (non-financial), the sector will inevitably shrink no matter what the expectations, but not just yet.

  5. Cal says:

    forgot to add,

    and to find inexpensive or moderately priced housing.

    • QQQBall says:

      Oh absolutely. You add a million renters to Socal and what happens? Drive-by a school in Los Angeles in the morning. Some areas are all brown skinned. Are all their parents illegal? Of course not, but I have been going through apts in Socal since the mid-1980s and the tenant mix has changed in many areas. i will add, the change in South Central has been for the better. I laugh when I hear figures of 11MM illegal aliens… that lie has been repeated so many times it is now gospel.

      Just think in basic terms – supply/demand/price equilibrium. It cannot be reasonably argued that an increase supply of construction labor does not pressure wages unless you have a jump in construction spending.

      As to the LPR… get real, again its just maff. if you have 100 workers and 63 are employed, that is a 37% UE rate; if you have a labor pool of 63 and 63 are employed that is full employment. I will note that I see a large number of “Helped Wanted” signs in my area, but let’s face it Free ACA with Zero Deductible for a family is likely more than aannual minimum wage income…

      Wait until the next recession. It will be brutal. BTW, the mother of my chillrens is Mexican and I am living the US when my citizenship is finalized for another country, which should be soon. Note the key term – CITIZENSHIP.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Your statement: “As to the LPR… get real, again its just maff. if you have 100 workers and 63 are employed, that is a 37% UE rate; if you have a labor pool of 63 and 63 are employed that is full employment.”

        Unadulterated BS.

        It goes like this: 100 people over 16 = working-age population. Of them, those that are working or are looking for a job = labor force. But students, retirees (including the 75 million baby boomers that are now retiring), people who want to be housewives and househusbands, the disabled, the wealthy who just want to rest on their laurels, and many other categories of people who are NOT looking for a job are NOT in the labor force. Hence the LPR of around 63%.

  6. Mark says:

    The job market is very tight in health care, I can tell you that. Demand for surgical services remains high at my hospital, and we have trouble recruiting and retaining staff, especially nurses…

  7. JB says:

    somewhat good employment increases and low unemployment rate but no wage inflation. that’s the conundrum. Maybe , people are are finally reentering the work force keeping wage pressures low.

  8. George says:

    Only 60,000 lost in retail? Toys R Us alone employees 60,000 globally and I assume at least half of those are in the USA.

    Numbers seem very low. If you jump from one retail job to the next in say 30 days, I doubt you’d even show up in the BLS numbers.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      It takes months to liquidate stores. It’s not like TRU announced it would liquidate and then at that moment all people are gone. Bon Ton stores won’t close till summer. So give it some time :]

  9. JD says:

    I still remember when the talking heads in media were saying in the 90s that for every job outsourced , 2 would be created in the US because of a ‘rising middle class’ in the countries outsourced to. I think Detroit demonstrates exactly what a mountain BS the meme always was and still is.
    I had to train 10 imported tech workers in 2001and subsequently lost my career in software engineering and have only survived in the aerospace industry the last 15 years as a contractor … now that industry is getting infiltrated … I don’t really care what others say in contradiction to my sentiments about the topic any longer … I know the truth and don’t make things up to justify a flawed ideology that matches exactly what corporate controlled media has been saying for 25 years straight and they are known liars … Trump was elected because he spoke directly to this issue in his campaign and the political establishment of both parties freaked because of it … whether real change in this regard happens remains to be seen

    • Bobber says:

      Technology gains decrease costs and need for labor. The problem is that the technology gains do not increase revenue growth for society as a whole. Henry Ford realized this a long time ago. Nobody would be able to buy his new invention (the car) unless he paid his workers enough to keep the production cycle going.

      The same applies today. Each year, the profits get more concentrated and workers are paid less, relatively. The end of this trend is clear. It will lead to declining revenues until there is a reset on the wealth distribution. My guess is change will come through a populist movement that shifts from Trump to someone like Bernie, who would more clearly redistribute wealth put a progressive tax policy in place. That will put a damper on AI and other advancements as the return on these investments declines. But more people would be working and have money to spend.

  10. Pete Stubben says:

    Maybe Trump can get done in four years — record low unemployment, record high Black & Hispanic employment, record high consumer & business indexes, ISIS decapitated, Iran emasulated, North Korea welcomed into world polity and, oh yeah, record high equity markets –what many other Presidents can’t get done in eight years and he retires to Mount Rushmore…as NPR funding is cut off and the radio & TV monthly beggars can ‘do’ rather than ‘whine’…PJS

  11. philbq says:

    Thank you, Wolf. This is the real world, where working class people try to survive.

  12. raxadian says:

    In less than a decade a lot of jobs that exist today are gonna disappear thanks to robots doing them instead of humans. There is even robots to pick fruit nowadays.

    • Night-Train says:

      You can chisel that into a rock, or get a robot to do it. Automation-robotics-AI, whatever you call it, is going to cause more social dislocation than many folks have begun to consider. Things like a guaranteed wage, job sharing or some socioeconomic construct yet to be determined will evolve, or things are going to be really bleak.

      • Delikon Threetree says:

        Read The book Midas World by Irving Wallace.

      • Delikon Threetree says:

        Sorry the author Midas World is Frederik Pohl. It’s a series of stories and the one I’m referring to is The Midas Plauge.

  13. Lee says:

    Some comments on immigration.

    1. If you want to see what immigration does to a country take a look at Australia. Over the past 20 years or so we have had huge intakes of immigrants year after year. (I was one.)

    These recent immigrants are much different from the ones that came to Australia in the 40’s -70’s. Many are from Asian countries, India, or the ME.

    Just taking the train compared to 15 years ago and you’d have to wonder what happened – what country are you in…………

    Downtown Melbourne near the State Library looks more like China than Australia.

    Trains, roads, and the big cities are crowded and the price of RE has been pushed up by increase demand. Prices in certain areas where Chinese demand is the greatest have seen price go up to ridiculous levels. A house bought in one of those areas 15 years ago would most likely by worth 10 times what you paid.

    Some departments at universities are made up of 40% foreign students. The universities here all have huge foreign recruitment departments and have built lots of new buildings and dorms for these foreign students.

    2. Australia’s GDP continues to grow as the population increases. For example the population of Melbourne has increased from around 3 million when I moved here to around the 5 million mark now. It is expected to hit around 8 million by 2050 or even sooner. I probably won’t be around to see it, but for sure I’ll see 7 million. Just unreal.

    To travel from the east side of Melbourne to the airport is about 85 kilometers. From the newest suburb in the north to the southern most part of the metro area is now a distance of 150 kilometers!!

    BUT even though GDP has gone up the PER CAPITA figures have not moved up or actually decreased over time in certain states. People are actually worse off. The supply of labor as a result of immigration and natural population growth is too large for the number of jobs available.

    For example, there are so many pharmacists here now the wages that they are getting is quite low and just around the minimum amount specified in wage legislation. Years ago it was a very high paying job with a lack of people here in Australia. So they ‘imported’ many and set up more schools and now there are way too many. Nursing is the same.
    Too many doctors (GP’s) as well in the cities and not enough in the rural areas though.

    Cities and states have not spent enough for infrastructure to keep up with the increased population growth and roads, trains, and schools are over crowded. Just get caught on the freeway here during rush hour.

    Too easy to get legally into the country now and too easy to get citizenship compared to years ago.

    3. Contrast that with Japan.

    Little immigration and many of those that do go to Japan leave after a few years.

    (Gee, Wolf seems to be a good example – how long did you stay? I did ten years there.)

    Japan can be easy to get into if you have the right qualifications, but can be very difficult to get permanent residence and almost impossible to get citizenship (As a foreigner I would really question why you’d want to in the first place as you have to give up your other citizenship/citizenships.)

    If you want to see the impact of “immigrants” on jobs and wages look at the situation of foreign language teachers at Japanese universities. Too many teachers and not enough work has pushed the salaries down to barely liveable levels and conditions that are more like slavery that work.

    Two to 2 1/2 more classes for 1/3rd the pay compared to 30 years ago.

    Controlled immigration that sets rules and guidelines is ok. Uncontrolled immigration that allows too many people into a country reduces wages and opportunities for not only the immigrants, but those already in the country.

    Uncontrolled immigration can also alter the makeup and composition of a country’s population and lead to serious cultural clashes, crime, and a worse off situation.

    Frankly, I hope that Japan never goes down the route that Australia or the USA has taken

    • Rates says:

      IMHO the US is different from Japan. In fact arguably uncontrolled immigration made the US great. It’s not about controlled or uncontrolled, it’s more that in the past, plenty of immigrants had the fortitude to rely on themselves while being entrepreneurial. The Protestant work ethic (I don’t have a religion) was very common. The kinds of immigrants we have nowadays are mostly low skilled laborers that then leech on public services.

      But yes, as a Japanophile, I want Japan to remain Japanese. I don’t need another United Nations of Benetton country. Liberalism is a total fail.

      • Sporkfed says:

        The Law of Supply and Demand applies to labor also.
        Uncontrolled immigration leads to more uncontrolled
        immigration. If you are poor in the US you have high
        competition for low paying jobs while being forced to
        pay First World prices. A permanent underclass is
        being cultivated.

    • 728huey says:

      Isn’t the real estate situation down under unique in that most of the entire population lives in the coastal cities while most of the entire interior of the country is desert? Australia has nearly the same land mass as the continental USA yet has 1/12th of the population. I believe there is only one city in the interior of Australia that has a population of at least 100,000 people, and the only big city along the west coast of Australia is Perth. Even then, the only cities outside the east coast of Australia besides Perth are Adelaide and Darwin, and they’re not exactly massive metropolises. So it would naturally conclude that immigration would be along the east coast and would send what limited desirable real estate through the roof.

  14. Paul says:

    IMO, the jobs number is useless, government produced drivel. Americans work, on average, 1850 hours a year in a full time job. They work 8 hours a day, and get a one hour unpaid lunch break.

    Germans work 1470 hours a year, work 8 hours a day and that includes a one hour paid lunch break.

    Germany is a producer and exporter. The US economy revolves around selling Asian produced plastic shit at hyper-inflated prices much of which we never will pay for.

    The survey model is highly questionable.

    • Kevin C says:

      I love Germany. I’ve lived there for several years and go back as often as I can. But, I wouldn’t want to work there. It’s harder to find a job, there’s way less protection for the individual worker, and the cost of living is rarely less than that of the USA. Add to that the legal system slanted towards the State and Corporation, and it’s no workers paradise.

      They have a huge immigration problem, which was bad before the wall came down and has gotten worse since (ask Frau Merkel). They are much more racist and intolerant (although it’s aimed at Jews, Turks, “Easterners”, etc, and not based on a “color” criteria).

      But what’s really got their politicians in a bind is what’s going to happen when people stop driving cars. 20% of the entire country depends on auto manufacturing to provide a living, and that’s going away in the foreseeable future. Electric vehicles require 80% fewer parts, they require a much smaller support infrastructure (gas stations, mechanics, etc), they can be made with fewer workers, and (thanks to modern communications) we require fewer of them.

      Germany is Seattle back in the days when Boeing was the only game in town. And it’s gonna get ugly unless they can come up with some new technology or service that they can shift the next generation of workers into ASAP while retraining those currently producing. Good luck with that.

      America is tremendously diverse, and, even better, still one of the easier countries to create a business in. You can get ahead if you work at it. That’s not even remotely possible in many parts of this world.

  15. Jason says:

    It’s sure is funny how every time “Job Numbers” come up… Or any type of employment topic for that matter…
    The illegal immigration debate takes off like wild fire.
    Such a divide in this country.. Folks are obviously effected by it, maybe even on both sides of the topic….
    It’s a shame we can’t leave politics out of such a personal subject…Then we might actually get somewhere…

    • JD says:

      Yep … it’s a means to divert discussion to something other than mere employment numbers and the economy in general and slander anyone who doesn’t like the current trajectory as a racist or xenophobe or whatever … the diversion and ad hominem attack of the character of ppl who don’t like what is going on is extremely effective. That ‘strategy’ of diversion is a favorite method of control by narcisstic personality disordered ppl in the interpersonal relationships .. but now done at the corporate entity owned press and social media outlets … systemic brainwashing … yay!

    • Sporkfed says:

      Because jobs, immigration, Free Trade, and wages are all intertwined. It’s one big Gordian knot used to tie Labor’s

  16. Uncle, now deceased, retired from NASA. Buddy called him a few years later, “they want to get rid of us and hire a bunch of new kids (who don’t know anything)”. Uncle said, “take the golden handshake, they will call you back as a consultant and you will make more money than you do now.” Turned out to be true

  17. Kreditanstalt says:

    Look at it over years, if not decades. What IS disappearing are QUALITY jobs…lower-paid service work is constantly increasing.

    • Bobber says:

      I remember when CEO’s made 30x the average worker. They was an initial outcry when that rose to 50x. Then they did a big trickle down sell job on the population and nobody cares anymore. What the multiple now – 300x?

      When one segment of the population increases its pay ten fold, of course others are going to make less.


    I realize that you must be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the greatest Economist in the history of Economics, Comrade Richter, but it would be nice to see an article or two on this historic day in the historiography of Professor Emeritus Karl Marx, eh.



    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

      “I told’ja this would happen!” – Prof. K. Marx.

  19. WSKJ says:

    “Health Care” is a big umbrella. Wolf, you did include some discussion of the limits of some of the employment categories, but I don’t find a discussion of where the line is drawn between health care, and health care insurance, or even what I might call “health care tech” or “health care IT” ?

    (The latter, “health care IT” , for example, might include data entry jobs to get everyone’s health care records up on the Internet, as required by the ACA, aka Obamacare.)….

    Is there not an important distinction to be drawn between , for example, someone who draws blood for lab tests; and someone at the hospital who is calculating what exactly your “health insurance” does/does not cover.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Anyone working in insurance (no matter what kind of insurance) is in “Finance & insurance.”

      Any workers in Healthcare IT, or retail IT, or manufacturing IT or any other IT are in “Information.”

  20. Mark says:

    Is it true the BLA ‘assumes’ 200,000 extra new jobs are created each month by new business startups? and that this is factored into their figures each month?

    This means that without these new ‘dubious’ job creations last month, the U.S actually lost 40,000 jobs?

  21. Lee says:

    One of the big ‘ideas’ that the left is pushing here in Australia is that the share of the pie going to labor compared to capital is at an historical low.

    Then they point to the gross aggregate amount of profits and start screaming bloody murder about this and that and how ‘unfair’ everything is.

    A little while back in Australia we had the mining boom where people in warehouses (not whorehouses!!) were making over A$150,000 a year for driving a forklift (At that time the A$ was worth US$1.10 at its high).

    So labor and wages in the mining and oil and gas sectors were sky high and pushed up the measure of wages.

    As the mining boom has basically come to end the need for all that labor – both in bodies and high wages has also come to an end.

    During the construction of these projects there was no income generated and it was all outgo especially in the form of wages.

    Now that these projects are actually generating income in the form of oil, gas, and ore, the share of ‘income’ going to the owners of the projects has soared and the share going to labor has plummeted.

    The payback period for the owners of the capital has started and has skewed the figures back towards the capital parts ofthe projects.

    A natural cycle in the life of a project, but one that the left deems unfair.

    So at least in this sector of the economy there is, in reality, nothing unfair.

  22. DV says:

    I would say that the current US “boom” is riding the wave of the shale “boom”. Just a very small portion of workforce produce about 5% of the GDP that support everything else. Not clear how long that can continue, depends on reserves, But once you see the shale go down< everything will go down, as a very fast pace.

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