We've updated our monthly workforce analysis to include Friday's Employment Report for May. The unemployment fell to 13.3%, and the number of new nonfarm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at 2.5M.

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 13.3%. The age 16+ population increased by 151 thousand and the labor force increased by 1.75 million. The breakdown of the growth is a increase of 3.8 million employed and a 2.1 million decrease 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 11.5% (to one decimal place), down from 12.8% the previous month. The cohort population increased by 57 thousand and the labor force increased by 972 thousand. The breakdown of the growth is an increase of 2.2 million employed and a 1.2 million decrease in the unemployed.

Unemployment Rate Ages 25-54