The real unemployment rate – March 2020

The real unemployment rate – March 2020

Bottom Line: If we weren’t having to deal with the coronavirus, we’d be celebrating the record shattering start to 2020 for jobs. Both January and February provided blowout job gains. The news was exceptional pretty much across the board. Of course, these numbers are about what’s already happened and the biggest concerns are what’s happening right now. It’s valid. But it’s also good to know that we went into the virus threat with as much positive economic momentum as we could have ever hoped for. If we can turn the corner on the virus within the next few weeks, the economy should be able to weather the storm. Otherwise there’d be room for concern about job losses. As I’ve mentioned when discussing the coronavirus and the economy. The one stat to watch above all others are jobs. Let’s take a look at where we were with them coming out of February. 

  • Unemployment rate 3.5% (-.1)
  • +273,000 jobs 
  • Positive revisions from previous months totaling +85,000 jobs! 

Top industries for hiring:              

  • #1 Food Services
  • #2 Government
  • #3 Construction

Important notes:

  • Factoring in the revisions, the real number was +358,000 jobs added!
  • We’re off to one of the top three starts to a year in recorded American history
  • Construction jobs are off to their biggest gains to start a year on record with huge gains in January and February.

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

  • Actual: 7% down from 7.4% year over year

Key takeaways:                

1. Wow. Just wow. Record gains, lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years and the breadth of the gains was exceptional. Again, minus corona concerns we’d be talking about the stunning strength of the US economy.

2. Those unaccounted for in the base unemployment rate include 6.8 million Americans (1.1 million long-term unemployed, 4.3 million are underemployed & 1.4 million are marginally attached to the workforce).

3. The labor participation rate held steady continuing the year over year improvement with more people joining the workforce with unprecedented opportunity.

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