Friday, July 4, 2014

The economy has finally recovered all jobs lost during the recession...

Or has it?

True, the number of employed persons is now equal to what it was back when the recession started in 2007, and that is good news, but does that tell us the whole picture?

Take a look at the Civilian Employment to Population ratio.

This graph seems to tell us that the employment situation hasn't improved at all!

What about the loafers?  And I do mean loafers - those who have given up, not those who have successfully retired.

Am I right that 13.5 Million working aged Americans have completely given up looking for work and are living on the dole?  Well, if we assume most true retirees come from a pool of people over 55, we should see a large portion of people over 65 retiring.  Do we?

About half.  So 3 million people who joined the 55-64 age group decided not to work.  If we choose to believe that all of those are happily retired, there are still 10.5 million more people who aren't working.  How many are 65 and over?

From BLS data here and here, we know that we've gained 8.364 million people over 65. We also know that 2.2 million of these people have joined the labor force.  That may mean that the other 6.164 million are happily retired.

It is true that labor force participation rates are growing for the 55 and over crowd - they are the only group that is growing.  So it very well may be true that no one over the age of 54 is discouraged from working, they are happily retired.

We still have 4.336 million people of working age who are considered "long term discouraged" or perhaps disabled, but in any case, not working but not counted as unemployed.

Although I find it personally heartening that most people over 55 who are retiring are probably doing so intentionally, the numbers still mean that in the best scenario, we should add several million to the number of unemployed people. Even so, scenarios are models of reality, not reality itself.  In reality, it doesn't matter if people are happily retired or not.  If they aren't working, they must live off of savings or someone else's labor.

The bottom line is that while we have just returned to the same number of producers that we saw in 2007, those producers have to work harder to take care of those additional 15 million people that have joined the population who aren't able - or willing - to produce.

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