Employment-Population Ratio


This chart shows the civilian employment-population ratio, a statistic that eliminates some of the vagaries of the unemployment rate by just asking how many people have jobs rather than whether or not the people in question are “unemployed” per se (as opposed to being full-time students, or homemakers, etc.). As you’ll see, the ratio dipped quite a bit at the beginning of the new millenium as the stock bubble burst, and then stayed substantially lower than it had been during the 1990s boom throughout Bush’s much-touted recovery and now has started declining again without ever reaching the old peak or even the late-1970s peak.

5/3/07 Employment-Population Ratio

Brad tells us that “the employment-to-population ratio is usually a lagging indicator–it doesn’t start to decline significantly until after a recession is well under way” which doesn’t sound like good news. I do see one instance in 1994-95 of an upswing in the ratio temporarily reversing just in time to give the GOP control of congress (people forget that aspect of the ’94 midterms — to some extent, it was the economy, stupid) before continuing upwards again.