Lambert here: I blame Putin.
By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street
Hardly any improvement for individuals since the Great Recession.
When Donald Trump campaigned on how “terrible” the jobs situation was, while the Obama Administration touted the jobs growth since the employment bottom of the Great Recession in 2010, it sounded like they were talking about two entirely different economies at different ends of the world. But they weren’t. Statistically speaking, they were both right.
Since 2011, the US economy created 14.6 million “nonfarm payrolls” as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – whether or not they’re low-wage or less than full-time jobs. But for individuals, this job market, statistically speaking, looks almost as tough as it was during the Great Recession.
Obviously, a lot of people have found jobs, and some of them have found good jobs since then, and there are a ton of “job openings.” But the Census Bureau just told us why the job market is still, to use Trump’s term, “terrible” when it released its population estimates for 2016, just before clocking out for the holidays.
According to this report: From the beginning of 2010 – in terms of jobs, the darkest days of the Great Recession – through December 2016, the US “resident population” (not counting overseas-stationed military personnel) grew by 16 million people.
But since the beginning of 2010 through November 2016, nonfarm payrolls grew by only 13.8 million.
Note that in 2010, nonfarm payrolls declined by 900,000, after having plunged by over 5 million in 2009. The first year with growth in nonfarm payrolls was 2011.
The chart below shows this peculiar relationship between the “resident population” of the US (top green line) and nonfarm payrolls (bottom blue line). Both rose. But the bottom line (nonfarm payrolls) didn’t rise nearly enough.
The difference between the two is the number of people that are not on nonfarm payrolls. They might be students, unemployed, retirees, or working in a job that the “nonfarm payrolls” do not capture (more on that in a moment). This is reflected by the red line, whose slope should head down in an economy where jobs grow faster than the population:
For the first five years of this seven-year period, the number of people not occupying a job as captured by nonfarm payroll data, kept growing (red numbers), even as the touted jobs growth was kicking in. Why? Because population growth outpaced jobs growth over the five years from 2010 through 2014.
Only in 2015 and 2016 has growth in “nonfarm payrolls” edged past population growth. Those were the only two years since the Great Recession when people on an individual basis actually had improving chances of getting a job.
The nonfarm payrolls data is not a complete measure of the US jobs situation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it excludes “proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid volunteer or family employees, farm employees, and domestic employees. It also excludes military personnel, and employees of a big part of the intelligence community, including the CIA, the NSA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
There are many folks who’d contend that this population growth is mostly young people who are not yet in the work force and old people who refuse to die, and that for working age people (say, 18 to 65), the jobs growth has been phenomenal.
But that’s not the case. According to the Census report, in 2016, the percentage of people 18 and over grew to 249.5 million, making up 77.2% of the total US population, up from 76.8% in 2015 (247.3 million), and up from 76.2% in 2010! The millennials have moved into adulthood, elbowing each other while scrambling for jobs.
And boomers are not retiring from the working life. Why should they. Many of them are fit and don’t want to sit around bored, and many of them have to work because they can’t afford to quit working, even if they would like to. So the number of workers 65+ has soared 45% since the end of 2009, from 6.2 million to 9.0 million. So now there are nearly 3 million more of them on nonfarm payrolls than there had been in 2010:
The natural growth rate of the population (births minus deaths) has been declining for years. In 2016, it dropped to 0.38%, a new low. The growth rate from immigration, which fluctuates somewhat with the economy, edged down to 0.31%. So total population growth dropped to a new low of 0.69%. Of note: the natural growth rate via births won’t impact the labor force until the babies are young adults. But the vast majority of new immigrants are of working age, and they add to the labor force immediately.
So the number of jobs since 2010 has risen by 13.8 million – which the economists are endlessly touting, along with the even better sounding 14.8 million since 2011. But the population has increased by 16 million since 2010. Most of them are people of working age, jostling for position to grab one of these jobs that would put them on the nonfarm payrolls. And this is why the job market for many individuals is “terrible,” as Trump said.
But those might have been the good times. Read… Red Flag on Recession Crops up in NY Fed’s Coincident Economic Index, first time since November 2009
A population of less than 100 million in 1945 became more than 200 million in 1976 and over 320 million in 2016! Tripling your population in 70 years is a really bad idea. At this rate over a billion US citizens will exist in 2086. There are resource limits to growth. And a car, house, vacation, pension, healthcare,and large family will cease to be possible for all or even the majority. Study how the average Indian or Chinese family live and that albeit with a few bits of technology is the future.
But the pro-natalists don’t want to hear any discussion of overpopulation. Because of all those inconvenient facts.
A lot of “pro-natalists” are religious fundamentalists who do actually see the population/resource crunch coming for which they are trying to stack the numbers on their team.
But I think most of the “pro-natalists” are rich people who, more than anything else, want cheap labor. And there is no better way to get cheap labor than to force population growth ever higher.
We are not importing foreign workers because the natives refuse to breed ‘enough’ children. The natives (of all races) are limiting their family sizes because they are worried about having more children than they can support, just like they did in the great depression. Left to themselves, that would start to tighten up the labor market and produce powerful forces raising wages. But not if we keep forcing ever more foreign workers into the labor pool. Which is of course the whole idea.
Cheap labor uber alles!
‘Merika is the third most populous nation in the world…followed by Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Nigeria. Seems to be a mind-jarring fat to most when I bring it up….
There is nothing wrong with a Hispanic or a fundamentalist religious family, be they Christian or Orthodox Jews, whatever, having ten children; as long as they all live in one house with a couple of bathrooms and they all share one car and attend private schools they pay for.
It’s the spreading out as a biological self replicating and consumptive fractal that causes the problems….
You forgot to add that those ten children must remain residents of that one house for the rest of their lives, and they must continue to share one car, too. They also need to eat sparingly, for even though they are residing in one house, there must be about one acre (0.405 hectare) of agricultural land devoted to each person. Plus their needs for drinking water. . . .
No offense to anyone, but we keep looking at individual symptoms, not the whole disease.
Here is the macro view that diagnoses the malady. And ends with the remedy. A must watch.
Thanks for the link to this great interview with Michael Hudson. It’s all about the insidious role of debt. He points out that the foundation of the post WW II German economic miracle was the debt massive cancellation of 1947. That’s exactly what the US needs today, combined with a total reform of banking, so that only the Fed could create money and only use it to finance the real economy. This would basically wipe out Wall Street and much of the parasitic wealth in the US.
And your pension plan, life insurance and long term health care, as they are structured today.
Of course, if enough debt were eliminated, the result to you would be the same.
Alot of poorer countries in the “developing world” ensured they stayed poorer by letting their population growth get out of control. A big, if not the main, reason for China’s economic success since 1975 was in getting its population growth under control, that is a big reason for the contrast between China and India.
Unlike, for example, Japan, the rulers of the United States decided to emulate the developing countries that let their populations expand too much, importing people from the developing world to get the job done.
Let’s not forget that we need more people in the system to pay for SS/Medicare.
No, we don’t. Federal taxes do not “fund” Federal spending.
In general – literally, in the General Fund. But SS and Medicare are legally tied to payroll tax receipts. We’d have to change the law for MMT to apply.
A further complication is that the “trust fund” payments DO come out of the general fund, because the general fund borrowed them in the first place. That money is available but limited; it’s also politically vulnerable because it comes out of the general fund.
A lot of unofficial immigrants pay into SS but can’t collect on it, or simply go home before they retire, so they significantly subsidize the system.
U.S. population in 1945 = 140 million, not less than 100 million as stated by KK.
not likely any more as the US population growth has slowed down. without immigration, our growth probably is negative
Interesting about excluding domestic employees when it would appear there’s been a huge surge in nannies as well as home aides since the 1990s.
Very true, though most of these positions are by definition crappy jobs.
You may need someone to fill one of those crappy jobs someday in your retirement years. Sooner or later most people reach a point in the biological aging process where they can no longer care for themselves but are not ready for the cup of hemlock. The jobs are crappy in my experience-(during a recovery period of disability I was forced to contact an agency to send someone to my home) because of pay-this does not have to be the case. We can guarantee employment without resorting to having administrators act like the unreformed Mr. Scrooge.
The other consideration is the administrators in the agency were not able to keep their employees happy-in part because of the low wages.
I have a neighbor who went through the paperwork of hiring a person directly to help her when her husband had Parkinson’s for years and years. That way she was able to pay the person well, avoiding the agency fees. Now due to worsening dementia she needs help herself, but even that technique does not work, because housing is so expensive in Silicon Valley; a 250 sf. apartment is $2500/month. She (or rather one of her kids) is going to have to figure out the tax/employment paperwork so that the person can live with her. She’s lucky enough to live in a big condo, so this is a possibility. And this is an area where people are so desperate for housing, that having a place to live is a big draw.
One person who is interested in the job lives in Sacramento; they want to do home health care in Silicon Valley but the only way they can do it is if they live in. The thing is, my neighbor is a good judge of people; she is kindly and she seems to have no problem hiring kindly people. Most people feel safer hiring someone through an agency.
She could move to another part of the country, where things are cheaper, but all of her friends are here. There are women in my neighborhood who send their demented husbands to nursing homes in the central valley since they can’t afford nursing homes here (and they can’t afford enough home help), and they rent out parts of their homes to try to make ends meet. They too could move out to the central valley to be with their husbands, but they too are old and all their friends are here (and friends are important when you are in your 80s).
An estimated 4% of employees in the United States are domestic employees. That number seems high enough that labor statistics should be recorded.
That’s a lot of granite countertops!
Real question; I wonder if the ratio of “domestic servants” to employers is linked to employer wealth. How many servants does one oligarch, or even a family of oligarchs, need?
Bonus points question; can military and para military ’employees’ be counted as “domestic servants?”
The key to saving the planet is dealing with population growth.
The planet can take care of itself. I think you mean “the key to saving ourselves.” Also I think consumption patterns of the “global North” are more of a problem than simply population.
the problem with ‘controlling’ consumption means you are also reducing jobs. you can reduce one with reducing the other (unless you reduce population at the same ate you reduce consumption too
but yes in general we humans cant really do a lot to the planet even dropping every nuke we have wont destroy it. it will make uninhabitable, just like climate change will do.
but its hard to convince some of us that we are doing our selves in by our own action, because, well the planet is so big. well, we have done it before, the dust storms of the great depression were our creation
course one could be really cynical and think thats why we wont change
Those patterns of consumption in the “global north”, start on this side of the Mexican border.
People moving across the line use, consume and produce more kids here than back home.
The planet can take care of itself, but the biosphere can’t, and humanity is already severely stressing the biosphere.
If by “global North” you mean north of the equator, then that will always be more of a problem that the global South, because most of the land is north of the equator. If you include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, southern China, and Indonesia in the “global South”, their overpopulation is already a catastrophe, and will only become worse as they consume more resources. For example, both India and China are increasing their coal usage every year, which poisons air and water, and increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
That resident population number appears to include under-16-year-olds who are in most cases not looking for employment. I have no idea how that number has changed. Ditto, it includes the voluntarily retired.
This article appears to be another argument for immigration. I am very much a progressive liberal, excepting the standard progressive immigration stance that more is better and that illegal immigration is o.k. What would our job market look like without immigrants, even just legal immigrants? Between 1970 and 2014, the percentage of foreign-born workers in the civilian labor force more than tripled, from 5 percent to 17 percent. In 2014 immigrants accounted for 17% of the work force; 27.6 million out of 159.5 million. What is that number was cut in half? The number of US unemployed peaked in 2009 at 15,352,000. Today its 7,400,000 (if you believe the official numbers). That means if we had cut immigration by just 30% there would be 0 unemployment. Of course this is a simplistic analysis but it is interesting to compare the two. And of course with near 0 unemployment wages would be pushed up. No wonder the powers that be keep yammering about immigration but never do anything about it. More people in the country willing to work for less money means increased profits for the rich.
Did you not read the article or simply fail to grasp it? Richter points out that the population has grown faster than the number of jobs and also that immigration is the largest part of that pop. growth (especially the adult population). He nowhere makes an argument for more illegal (or legal) immigration.
On immigration, how about we ask ourselves why it is that so many people are immigrating here and what we might do to discourage them? For instance, a kind of Marshall Plan for Central and South America would probably go a long way, as most people prefer to stay where they are from, if they can make a reasonable life there.
the only real growth was from immigration. take that away, and we have almost no growth
Those pesky Latin American nations prevent our banks and inside traders from establishing a market beachhead there, other than long distance IMF lending, and your Marshall Plan probably requires a sustained bombing campaign like in Europe. Half measures don’t cut it. How are things doing in Panama for example? The Chinese are increasingly in control of the “halluciNation” that uses the U.S. Dollar and is just a business opportunity.
On the homefront, the numbers are still in question, the effect is not.
Once your reach a critical mass of Spanish speakers in say, a restaurant crew, non-Spanish speakers will not be hired.
Hah! A dishwasher job posted on the local Indeed page was the only one all in Spanish. The rest were in English.
This preference for Latin speakers extends to the construction trades here in the Deep South now.
They not only work for less, but they “know their place,” if you get my drift.
Call me crazy, but considering that the Clinton campaign had access to a certain portion of this information, their inability to understand the appeal of Sanders and Trump is clearly delusional. Certainly the latest data just came out, but some of this about the period until 2014 and even a little after had to be out there. They had to know that until recently there really were not enough jobs to go around, and that there was a good chance that any gains in the last year or so were not enough to remotely cover the deficit up to that point. I get they might not have had the information that beyond not being enough most of the jobs created were part time and benefit free. That doesn’t explain not seeing and getting that most Americans have seen little or no recovery. It appears the DLC Democratic Party must be similar to that narrative driven NY Times environment, you only survive if you embrace the narrative even as the success of the enterprise you are apart loses more and more.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
― Upton Sinclair
All career elected politicians on both sides of the aisle are paid to not understand the jobs problem by donors with very large wallets who do not want the jobs problem solved. Follow the money. Who wants cheap labor and what’s the best way to get it if you can’t offshore operations?
We cannot rebuild the DLC or any leftist party until we figure out how to fund campaigns without donor money that is interested in maintaining the status quo.
We also need to learn how to wage strong populist campaigns on the local and regional level (primarily for congressional seats) in the face of monopoly controlled right wing radio networks/newspapers that shill for Republicans and DLC Democrats and their policies.
You can use data points (“14 million jobs created!!!!”) to push whatever narrative you want.
Data driven decision making really is just excuse making by outsourcing your choices to endless computer-created pages of data.
I will comment elsewhere, but I keep on hearing arguments on the lines that if only Hillary Clinton had understood the problems of the white working class she would have won or something along these lines.
The Trump and Sanders campaigns were protest vehicles -and there were precursors in previous elections- over how the country has been run for the past several decades. Since 1981 either the Clintons or the Bushes have either lived in the White House or held really high ranking positions in the US government. Members of neither family can credibly run against globalization (or “invade the world/ invite the world” as Steve Sailer puts it) or really other major policies pursued by the US government since the 1980s. They own it. They have to run on a globalization platform. Hillary Clinton in fact did surprisingly well at the polls, considering this.
Ed, the true arrogance of the Clinton campaign would be to know this information and still think that working class people had no where else to go (forget white or even middle class anymore it is pretty much everyone who isn’t in the top 5%). And knowingly or not that is what they did. You state they couldn’t run against globalization. Fine, even admitting there had been more fall out from the globalization agenda and that they were going to work to address this would have been an improvement.
Or why not go with we realize that while Obama has been focused on stabilizing the upper levers of our economy those lower have not seen any real recovery, so we will fight for higher minimum wage, employment benefit requirements (everyone gets sick days, holiday and a vacation including part time workers). How about acknowledging that the housing market has priced many out and talk about increased investment in low income housing with the idea that no one should have to spend half or more of their income on comfortable adequate housing, whether you make minimum wage or the median income for an area. Or how about affordable food?
It all could have been bull shit. Just like the anti TPP stance was bull shit, but it could have been done. All of those things are traditional Democratic positions, but instead we got an equally bull shit plan to deal with the disaster that are student loans that was soon forgotten. And a candidate that was stupid enough to tell miners in WV that the mines were going away and leave it at that. No moving on to address ways that they would address the loss of those jobs. To me nothing says, “so freaking what that you do not have jobs, suck it we don’t care now vote for us” than that moment.
You, or I, may call how well she did surprising, but the campaign was so sure she won they had already mapped out their transition team, and were only waiting for the polls to close to announce it. The only surprise they had was that most of them were going to spend Christmas looking for a job.
> you only survive if you embrace the narrative
That’s a nice lens to view the Podesta mail through (and embracing the narrative also includes sycophancy).
A lot of people don’t realize that immigration to the USA has declined rather dramatically in the past eight years. A big reason for that had to do with the economic crash in 2008 which wiped out a lot of low paying construction and day laborer jobs that many immigrants were getting hired for, but also there has been aggressive deportation of undocumented immigrants during this time. While the media has focused on the Dreamers who were born in this country to undocumented immigrants, many of those undocumented immigrants have been in the USA for over a decade or longer, and those immigrants haven’t been targeted for deportation as aggressively as those more recently entering the country. Also, despite the images of destitute people trying to cross the Mexican border, most illegal immigration occurs from foreigners who came to the USA legally on a visa and overstayed once their visa expired.
There can be types of verbal Marshall Plans, too. Some percentage of the US transient population has self-deported already, although likely not enough to upset the temporary Obama Rush of 1,500+ per day streaming in to claim amnesty prior to January 20th. Announce that undocumented entrants will be turned back, instead of throwing benefits at them, and that will help stem the human tide. Supplement that with specific policies to aid and abet Mexico and Central American governments in their internal and border control efforts to stop the human tide further south. Publicize those efforts and stick to them.
Both policies would change the dynamic and would allow some degree of US control over its own population growth. Then put in place specific, actionable steps to identify and facilitate thoughtful population growth to meet US needs and to allow for legitimate humanitarian relief instead of bleeding heart efforts that externalized ill-considered policies.
There is enough of everything for everybody. The problem is some people want it all.
Hmmm… actually, not.
A population growing geometrically will eventually outstrip natural resources. Cities function because of energy imports (fuel for cars, electricity for sewer/water treatment). Natural processes require time and space (acreage).
Greed is certainly an issue, but removing it form the population equation will not solve the people problem.
There are limits to growth.
Most NC articles that bemoan large economic trends implicitly suggest, to many NC regulars, that policy solutions could be best achieved through an MMT-based approach. It’s very attractive to believe that such a rich set of solutions to our problems really exist, and I for one would be very happy to see such approaches attempted (although I have no faith that any such thing would be even remotely considered by TPTB absent really catastrophic deterioration of the situation).
But I would like to see NC examine whether, how, and how much MMT-inspired approaches would damage those who are still benefitting from the current arrangements. I know I’m not requesting anything trivial here, but I think such topics will need to be addressed in response the inevitable backlash from TPTB should a serious discussion of MMT ever take place beyond the restricted enclaves to which it’s now confined.
I’m usually optimistic about new ideas. In this case traditional Keynesian deficit spending is well known to boost growth, and of course the rising tide would not just lift little boats but the biggest, too.
Resistance come from oligarch and elite fear of inflation; teaching that this comes from shortages of real resources, not printing, is the key to overcome resistance. Course, this means overturning the austerity consensus, but this is already happening in eu.
Second paragraph: Quite right. It’s been a hard pull just to get the ideas across. Maybe now it’s time to game things out…
How much of this lack-of-job situation is a permanent problem which will only get worse? Technology whacks jobs out of industries one after another and they are not coming back.
NC could hire a bot to write these articles and then others could hire bots to read them. We are going to have to find lots of leisure-time activities and make-work for real people.
” So the number of workers 65+ has soared 45% since the end of 2009,”
Isn’t this a direct result of the Zero Interest policy? They aren’t making anything from their savings, if they have any, so they have to work. The stock market has soared, of course, but the usual advice is to move toward fixed-income investments when you retire. The stock market is just too insecure, as it’s proved over and over – in fact, there’s a sizeable contingent, also represented in that statistic, who lost their shirts in 2009 and therefore couldn’t retire when they planned to. Or lost jobs at a bad time, like my brother. A double whammy – most investments tanked at the same time.
I guess this is econospeak for off-the-books workers. Under-the-table workers. Many workers find that the informal economy pays better than minimum wage jobs, or slightly above minimum, and less bother such as on-call scheduling. I know a lot who work this way. They’re working, supporting themselves and sometimes a family, and not counted. Raise the pay, and they’ll re-enter the formal economy if it presents an advantage to them.
Yes, I keep wondering just how big the “dark” economy is. I think it grew a lot in the last 8 years; all those people who are out of the workforce aren’t doing nothing. I’ve worked dark in the past, and know at least one person who carefully manages to stay off the radar – but he won’t get Social Security.
I have yet to see numbers on it; they’re intrinsically difficult to get.
There are loads and loads of job openings here in Silicon Valley. The local veterinary hospital has a huge banner – openings in many areas, no experience required in some of them. But – no-one can live on the wages offered, because of housing costs. McDonalds here starts at $10/hour; most other entry level jobs start at $12-$15/hour, but a 250 sf. apartment is $2,500 month. And more people are moving here every day, often from overseas for the tech jobs, and so the housing costs are going up from here. More units are built, but traffic is already brutal; it has gotten far worse over the past few years. So when I read of all these jobs that have been created since 2010, I wonder how many have been created in places where people can’t take them. I know people here who live in their car or their van and have regular jobs; there are RVs on many of the streets around here and it isn’t vacationers.
I don’t know how a “living wage” system would work in an area like this. The living wage would have to be very high. For Christmas eve we got pizza from a local place that is a good employer. Two large pizzas – soy cheese, no meat, no delivery cost or tip (I picked up), no side dishes or drinks – were $68 including tax. Maybe I’ll make the pizza myself next year, but that would reduce someone’s hours. There are a lot of rich people here to support high pizza-making wages, but maybe not enough. And then the higher wages are sucked into the rent vortex; more people drawn here by the jobs, competing for a limited number of housing places.
Not exactly true. Sure, many of the immigrants enter the U.S. work force immediately. And for each new person in the labor force, another person is displaced from her or his job, because the displaced person expects to be paid more than the immigrant is willing to accept. So immigration does not necessarily increase the number of people who are actually working.
“For the first five years of this seven-year period, the number of people not occupying a job as captured by nonfarm payroll data, kept growing (red numbers), even as the touted jobs growth was kicking in. Why? Because population growth outpaced jobs growth over the five years from 2010 through 2014.” — Wolf, this statistical analysis is not worthy of the normally high quality of your work. There is absolutely nothing abnormal about employment growth lagging population growth – in any economy with E/P < 1 that occurs by definition.
More salient measures re. the quality of the jobs market since onset of the Great Recession are:
 Based on pre-recession E/P and current population, how many jobs are 'missing'?
 How does the average quality of jobs (based on total wages plus benefits) created in the 'recovery' compared to the ones lost in the recessionary wake of the GFC?
Sorry about the duplicate-with-one-misspelling-fixed.
No problem, I just noticed this message and removed the version with the typo.
if we really want to slow population growth, or basically put it into reverse, then i guess there are only a few ways to do that. not advocating these, but…
one is to restrict families to just one child (ala China) or charge more for kids after the first one . another might be to have euthanasia programs (but not call them that). another might be to charge higher prices for health for those over 50. another would be break Medicare. and Medicaid. and throw in just break the US health care ‘system’ all together. hm, sounds like what the new US Congress and President want to do,.
course another way to reduce population is to reduce regulations so that businesses can sell deadly food and drugs, and allow them to store explosive materials (ala West,TX) in the most unsafe manner imaginable, and blow up more cities.
course there are down sides to having fewer people. fewer jobs (but if you reduce the population enough you can balance the population loss to job loss). and then there will be other things like being a lot poorer in general.