U.S. Workforce: March 2021 Update
We've updated our monthly workforce analysis to include last Friday's Employment Report for March. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.0%, and the number of new nonfarm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at 916K.
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 dropped to 6.0%. The age 16+ population increased by 85 thousand and the labor force increased by 347 thousand. The breakdown of the growth is an increase of 609K employed and a 262K decrease in the unemployed.
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 5.5% (to one decimal place), unchanged from the previous month. The cohort population increased by 14 thousand and the labor force increased by 212 thousand. The breakdown of the growth is an increase of 395K employed and a 184K decrease in the unemployed.