We've updated our monthly workforce analysis to include Friday's Employment Report for April. The unemployment jumped to 14.7%, and the number of new nonfarm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at -20.5M.

The Unemployment Rate

The closely watched headline unemployment rate is a calculation of the percentage of the Civilian Labor Force, age 16 and older, that is currently unemployed. Let's put this metric into its historical context. The first chart below illustrates this monthly data point since 1990.

In the latest report, this indicator jumped to 14.7%. The age 16+ population increased by 138 thousand and the labor force decreased by 6.4 million. The breakdown of the growth is a decrease of almost 22.4 million employed and a 15.9 million increase in the unemployed.

Unemployment Rate since 1990

Unemployment in the Prime Age Group

Let's look at the same statistic for the core workforce, ages 25-54. This cohort leaves out the employment volatility of the high-school and college years, the lower employment of the retirement years and also the age 55-64 decade when many in the workforce begin transitioning to retirement ... for example, two-income households that downsize into one-income households.

In the latest report, this indicator is at 12.8% (to one decimal place), up from 3.6% the previous month. The cohort population increased by 20 thousand and the labor force decreased by 3.36 million. The breakdown of the growth is a decrease of 12.5 million employed and a 9.2 million increase in the unemployed.

Unemployment Rate Ages 25-54