The real unemployment rate – January 2020

The real unemployment rate – January 2020

Bottom Line: Coming off what some had coined the greatest employment report ever – it was likely the first read on jobs, income and wages in 2020 would have a high threshold to impress. It’s safe to say it didn’t but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of terrific news inside of the report. As always, it’s important to delve in beneath the headlines to find the real storylines. And that’s especially true in this month’s report. There’s a huge storyline waiting to be told...but first we will start with the headline stuff.

  • Unemployment rate 3.5% (flat)
  • +145,000 jobs 
  • Negative revisions from previous months totaling -14,000 jobs 

Top industries for hiring:              

  • #1 Retail
  • #2 Leisure and hospitality
  • #3 Healthcare

Important notes:

  • Factoring in the revisions, the real number was +131,000 jobs added
  • Retail and hospitality related gains to end 2019 shows the true strength of consumer spending – a leading indicator for the US economy as it accounts for about 70% of all economic growth

Now for the real unemployment rate once underemployed, long-term unemployed and marginally attached people are accounted for:              

  • Actual: 6.7% down from 7.6% in 2018

Key takeaways:                

1. The real-unemployment rate is now at a record low! That’s right, the unemployment rate that accounts for every American, not just those captured by basic government readings, has never been lower in American history! 

2. Those unaccounted for in the base unemployment rate include 6.5 million Americans (1.2 million long-term unemployed, 4.1 million are underemployed & 1.2 million are marginally attached to the workforce). This was an improvement of 200,000 jobs in December and helps illustrate the difference between the ADP private sector report which looked terrific for December and the government report which on the surface looked just OK.

3. The labor participation rate continues to improve year over year with more people joining the workforce with unprecedented opportunity

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