Good News on Employment

My latest issue (March) of “Economic Indicators,” prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers for the U.S. Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, arrived on Saturday. It’s always fun (and sometimes scary, especially for federal government spending) to go through it and look at the data.

Aside: What finally came out also is the 2022 Economic Report of the President. This is the latest it has ever been.

Back to the March report. What I’m about to say won’t surprise economists who follow the data closely, but it’s worth saying because not everyone follows the data closely.

We hear about the “Great Resignation” and we sometimes picture a whole lot of people out there looking for jobs and being picky about them. There’s something to that story. Nevertheless, the good news for those of us who want people to actually have jobs is that the employment to population ratio is finally back above 60%. To be precise, it’s 60.149 percent. (This is the ratio of civilian employment to the civilian noninstitutional population. The civilian noninstitutional population, in turn, is the number of people of age 16 years or older in the United States who are not inmates of institutions (penal, mental, or homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.) In March, civilian employment was 158.458 million and the civilian noninstitutional population was 263.444 million.

The last time it was above 60% was in 2019, when it was 60.8 percent. Moreover, 2019 saw the highest E/P ratio for the last decade. (The all-time high was in April 2000, when it hit 64.7%.)

This means that we were only about 1.7 million jobs shy of the 2019 number.