A 7 Million Increase In US Population Results In A Labor Force... Decline? Why The US Has Really Lost 11.2 Million Jobs This Recession
One of the most peculiar observations of this depression started in December 2007 is that while the total US population has increased by 6.8 million from 303.3 million to just over 310 million in July 2010, over the same 32 month period, the civilian labor force has declined from 153.9 million to 153.6 million. This makes zero sense, as all those aging into working age, or immigrating into the US need to find some job or some other paid activity (either legally or illegally). But let's assume that due to discouragement with economic conditions people simply refuse to look for jobs. The reality is that eventually all those people will come storming into the job market, once the economy recovers sufficiently. Which is why we make an estimate of what the "fair value" of the civilian labor pool is based on the historical average participation rate of 50.4% (as a percentage of total population). Backing into the cumulative population growth by this estimate, means that as of July 2010, the labor force has really grown by 3.4 million, once the one-time adjustment of a "recession" is eliminated (and after all that's what all modern economist claim right - that recessions are merely one-time blips on the road to perpetual Keynesian growth). In other words, the cumulative differential between the labor force as reported, and as calculated has hit an all time record of 3.7 million: this is a number that has to be added to the 7.6 million directly tabulated unemployed to get a sense of just how many jobs have been lost assuming a reversion to the mean for the US economy. In other words, after eliminating the statistical voodoo of the BEA and the Census Bureau, the US has lost just over 11.2 million jobs since the start of the recession.
Chart 1: we demonstrate the cumulative change in the population of the US, the cumulative change in the as reported and the as calculated labor force, and the difference between the two (thick black line).
Chart 2: Cumulative job losses since December 2007, based on Establishment Survey estimates and adjusted for Labor Force "Catch Up"