What to Watch on Jobs Day: The Coast is in Sight, but We’re Still Navigating the High Seas

Are we there? No. Are we moving in the right direction? Yes. How will we know when we get there? See below.

On top of strong job growth, here are my brief thoughts on what we need to continue to look for in the monthly Employment Situation and JOLTS reports in order to be confident that a full recovery and genuine full employment will be attained. My key metrics are bolded.

  1. The labor force participation rate remains cyclically depressed. Nearly three million potential workers continue to be sidelined by the weak economy. The prime-age employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) remains far below pre-recessionary levels (see below). A stronger labor market would mean that the prime-age EPOP returns to pre-recession levels.

Jobs Day

Employment-to-population ratio of workers ages 25–54, 2006–2015

Month Employment-to-population ratio
2006-01-01 79.6%
2006-02-01 79.7%
2006-03-01 79.8%
2006-04-01 79.6%
2006-05-01 79.7%
2006-06-01 79.8%
2006-07-01 79.8%
2006-08-01 79.8%
2006-09-01 79.9%
2006-10-01 80.1%
2006-11-01 80.0%
2006-12-01 80.1%
2007-01-01 80.3%
2007-02-01 80.1%
2007-03-01 80.2%
2007-04-01 80.0%
2007-05-01 80.0%
2007-06-01 79.9%
2007-07-01 79.8%
2007-08-01 79.8%
2007-09-01 79.7%
2007-10-01 79.6%
2007-11-01 79.7%
2007-12-01 79.7%
2008-01-01 80.0%
2008-02-01 79.9%
2008-03-01 79.8%
2008-04-01 79.6%
2008-05-01 79.5%
2008-06-01 79.4%
2008-07-01 79.2%
2008-08-01 78.8%
2008-09-01 78.8%
2008-10-01 78.4%
2008-11-01 78.1%
2008-12-01 77.6%
2009-01-01 77.0%
2009-02-01 76.7%
2009-03-01 76.2%
2009-04-01 76.2%
2009-05-01 75.9%
2009-06-01 75.9%
2009-07-01 75.8%
2009-08-01 75.6%
2009-09-01 75.1%
2009-10-01 75.0%
2009-11-01 75.2%
2009-12-01 74.8%
2010-01-01 75.1%
2010-02-01 75.1%
2010-03-01 75.1%
2010-04-01 75.4%
2010-05-01 75.1%
2010-06-01 75.2%
2010-07-01 75.1%
2010-08-01 75.0%
2010-09-01 75.1%
2010-10-01 75.0%
2010-11-01 74.8%
2010-12-01 75.0%
2011-01-01 75.2%
2011-02-01 75.1%
2011-03-01 75.3%
2011-04-01 75.1%
2011-05-01 75.2%
2011-06-01 75.0%
2011-07-01 75.0%
2011-08-01 75.1%
2011-09-01 74.9%
2011-10-01 74.9%
2011-11-01 75.3%
2011-12-01 75.4%
2012-01-01 75.6%
2012-02-01 75.6%
2012-03-01 75.7%
2012-04-01 75.7%
2012-05-01 75.7%
2012-06-01 75.7%
2012-07-01 75.6%
2012-08-01 75.7%
2012-09-01 75.9%
2012-10-01 76.0%
2012-11-01 75.8%
2012-12-01 75.9%
2013-01-01 75.7%
2013-02-01 75.9%
2013-03-01 75.9%
2013-04-01 75.9%
2013-05-01 76.0%
2013-06-01 75.9%
2013-07-01 76.0%
2013-08-01 75.9%
2013-09-01 75.9%
2013-10-01 75.5%
2013-11-01 76.0%
2013-12-01 76.1%
2014-01-01 76.5%
2014-02-01 76.5%
2014-03-01 76.6%
2014-04-01 76.5%
2014-05-01 76.4%
2014-06-01 76.8%
2014-07-01 76.6%
2014-08-01 76.8%
2014-09-01 76.8%
2014-10-01 76.9%
2014-11-01 76.9%
2014-12-01 77.0%
2015-01-01 77.2%
2015-02-01 77.3%
2015-03-01 77.2%
2015-04-01 77.2%
2015-05-01 77.2%
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Source: EPI analysis of  Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey public data

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  1. The unemployment rate remains elevated. Andrew Figura and David Ratner have a nice piece detailing how the economy can likely see significantly lower unemployment before wage growth returns to historic norms, in part because of declines in workers’ bargaining power. Furthermore, underemployment, which includes persons marginally attached to the labor force plus total employed part time for economic reasons is still far above pre-recession levels.
Jobs

Both genders suffer from sustained high underemployment: Underemployment rate of workers age 16 and older by gender, 1994–2015

Month Male Female
1994-01-01 11.1% 12.1%
1994-02-01 11.1% 11.8%
1994-03-01 10.9% 11.9%
1994-04-01 10.6% 11.8%
1994-05-01 10.7% 11.6%
1994-06-01 10.7% 11.2%
1994-07-01 10.5% 11.0%
1994-08-01 10.3% 11.1%
1994-09-01 10.2% 10.9%
1994-10-01 10.1% 10.9%
1994-11-01 9.9% 10.8%
1994-12-01 9.5% 10.7%
1995-01-01 9.5% 10.8%
1995-02-01 9.4% 10.4%
1995-03-01 9.4% 10.4%
1995-04-01 9.7% 10.7%
1995-05-01 10.1% 10.6%
1995-06-01 9.6% 10.8%
1995-07-01 9.7% 10.8%
1995-08-01 10.0% 10.7%
1995-09-01 9.8% 10.6%
1995-10-01 9.6% 10.7%
1995-11-01 9.8% 10.6%
1995-12-01 9.7% 10.4%
1996-01-01 9.2% 10.3%
1996-02-01 9.6% 10.5%
1996-03-01 9.7% 9.8%
1996-04-01 9.6% 10.2%
1996-05-01 9.5% 10.6%
1996-06-01 9.2% 10.2%
1996-07-01 9.5% 10.2%
1996-08-01 9.1% 10.0%
1996-09-01 8.9% 10.0%
1996-10-01 8.9% 10.2%
1996-11-01 8.9% 10.2%
1996-12-01 8.8% 10.4%
1997-01-01 8.9% 9.9%
1997-02-01 8.8% 10.1%
1997-03-01 8.6% 9.9%
1997-04-01 8.7% 9.7%
1997-05-01 8.4% 9.7%
1997-06-01 8.8% 9.1%
1997-07-01 8.3% 9.3%
1997-08-01 8.2% 9.4%
1997-09-01 8.1% 9.3%
1997-10-01 8.2% 8.9%
1997-11-01 8.0% 9.0%
1997-12-01 8.1% 8.9%
1998-01-01 8.0% 8.9%
1998-02-01 7.9% 8.8%
1998-03-01 7.9% 8.9%
1998-04-01 7.3% 8.6%
1998-05-01 7.7% 8.6%
1998-06-01 7.7% 8.6%
1998-07-01 8.0% 8.5%
1998-08-01 7.5% 8.5%
1998-09-01 7.6% 8.3%
1998-10-01 7.3% 8.5%
1998-11-01 7.1% 8.2%
1998-12-01 7.2% 7.9%
1999-01-01 7.1% 8.3%
1999-02-01 7.2% 8.1%
1999-03-01 7.0% 8.2%
1999-04-01 7.0% 8.2%
1999-05-01 7.1% 7.9%
1999-06-01 7.2% 8.1%
1999-07-01 7.1% 8.0%
1999-08-01 7.0% 7.8%
1999-09-01 6.9% 7.8%
1999-10-01 6.9% 7.4%
1999-11-01 6.8% 7.5%
1999-12-01 6.8% 7.4%
2000-01-01 6.7% 7.4%
2000-02-01 6.8% 7.5%
2000-03-01 6.7% 7.5%
2000-04-01 6.4% 7.3%
2000-05-01 6.6% 7.9%
2000-06-01 6.7% 7.3%
2000-07-01 6.7% 7.4%
2000-08-01 6.7% 7.7%
2000-09-01 6.7% 7.2%
2000-10-01 6.5% 7.1%
2000-11-01 6.9% 7.2%
2000-12-01 6.8% 7.0%
2001-01-01 7.1% 7.6%
2001-02-01 7.0% 7.7%
2001-03-01 7.2% 7.3%
2001-04-01 7.4% 7.4%
2001-05-01 7.6% 7.6%
2001-06-01 8.0% 7.9%
2001-07-01 7.6% 8.1%
2001-08-01 8.2% 8.3%
2001-09-01 8.6% 8.9%
2001-10-01 9.2% 9.3%
2001-11-01 9.4% 9.3%
2001-12-01 9.4% 9.9%
2002-01-01 9.4% 9.5%
2002-02-01 9.4% 9.4%
2002-03-01 9.6% 9.5%
2002-04-01 9.6% 9.8%
2002-05-01 9.7% 9.7%
2002-06-01 9.6% 9.4%
2002-07-01 9.6% 9.6%
2002-08-01 9.7% 9.7%
2002-09-01 9.5% 9.4%
2002-10-01 9.6% 9.6%
2002-11-01 9.7% 9.7%
2002-12-01 10.0% 9.6%
2003-01-01 10.2% 9.7%
2003-02-01 10.2% 10.0%
2003-03-01 10.3% 9.8%
2003-04-01 10.4% 10.1%
2003-05-01 10.4% 10.0%
2003-06-01 10.6% 10.0%
2003-07-01 10.6% 9.9%
2003-08-01 10.4% 9.9%
2003-09-01 10.6% 10.1%
2003-10-01 10.3% 10.0%
2003-11-01 10.1% 9.9%
2003-12-01 9.7% 10.1%
2004-01-01 9.6% 10.2%
2004-02-01 9.4% 9.8%
2004-03-01 10.0% 10.1%
2004-04-01 9.8% 9.8%
2004-05-01 9.8% 9.7%
2004-06-01 9.2% 9.8%
2004-07-01 9.4% 9.6%
2004-08-01 9.6% 9.4%
2004-09-01 9.4% 9.2%
2004-10-01 9.8% 9.7%
2004-11-01 9.4% 9.3%
2004-12-01 9.3% 9.3%
2005-01-01 9.3% 9.2%
2005-02-01 9.1% 9.3%
2005-03-01 9.1% 9.3%
2005-04-01 8.9% 9.2%
2005-05-01 8.7% 9.3%
2005-06-01 8.6% 9.3%
2005-07-01 8.6% 9.2%
2005-08-01 8.6% 9.1%
2005-09-01 8.7% 9.3%
2005-10-01 8.5% 9.0%
2005-11-01 8.5% 9.0%
2005-12-01 8.4% 8.9%
2006-01-01 8.1% 8.6%
2006-02-01 8.2% 8.5%
2006-03-01 8.0% 8.5%
2006-04-01 8.0% 8.5%
2006-05-01 8.1% 8.4%
2006-06-01 8.2% 8.6%
2006-07-01 8.3% 8.7%
2006-08-01 8.2% 8.6%
2006-09-01 7.6% 8.5%
2006-10-01 8.2% 8.3%
2006-11-01 8.0% 8.2%
2006-12-01 8.0% 8.0%
2007-01-01 8.4% 8.1%
2007-02-01 8.2% 7.8%
2007-03-01 8.1% 7.9%
2007-04-01 8.1% 8.4%
2007-05-01 8.1% 8.4%
2007-06-01 8.2% 8.2%
2007-07-01 8.2% 8.4%
2007-08-01 8.4% 8.5%
2007-09-01 8.5% 8.3%
2007-10-01 8.5% 8.4%
2007-11-01 8.5% 8.4%
2007-12-01 9.1% 8.7%
2008-01-01 9.0% 8.9%
2008-02-01 9.0% 8.8%
2008-03-01 9.2% 8.8%
2008-04-01 9.4% 9.0%
2008-05-01 10.0% 9.4%
2008-06-01 10.4% 9.5%
2008-07-01 11.0% 9.8%
2008-08-01 11.3% 10.6%
2008-09-01 12.0% 10.4%
2008-10-01 12.7% 11.2%
2008-11-01 13.6% 11.9%
2008-12-01 14.6% 12.9%
2009-01-01 14.5% 13.2%
2009-02-01 15.6% 13.9%
2009-03-01 16.6% 14.5%
2009-04-01 17.3% 14.5%
2009-05-01 18.0% 14.8%
2009-06-01 17.4% 15.1%
2009-07-01 17.4% 15.1%
2009-08-01 18.4% 15.1%
2009-09-01 18.6% 15.4%
2009-10-01 19.1% 16.0%
2009-11-01 18.4% 16.1%
2009-12-01 18.4% 16.5%
2010-01-01 17.1% 15.4%
2010-02-01 17.5% 15.8%
2010-03-01 17.7% 15.9%
2010-04-01 18.1% 16.3%
2010-05-01 17.6% 15.8%
2010-06-01 17.5% 15.0%
2010-07-01 17.3% 15.4%
2010-08-01 17.7% 15.6%
2010-09-01 17.9% 16.4%
2010-10-01 17.7% 16.5%
2010-11-01 17.5% 16.5%
2010-12-01 17.1% 16.5%
2011-01-01 16.0% 15.7%
2011-02-01 16.0% 15.6%
2011-03-01 15.9% 15.3%
2011-04-01 16.4% 15.9%
2011-05-01 16.2% 15.7%
2011-06-01 16.5% 15.6%
2011-07-01 16.3% 15.7%
2011-08-01 16.6% 15.9%
2011-09-01 16.5% 16.4%
2011-10-01 16.5% 15.7%
2011-11-01 15.5% 15.7%
2011-12-01 15.0% 15.6%
2012-01-01 14.6% 15.5%
2012-02-01 14.7% 15.0%
2012-03-01 14.4% 14.7%
2012-04-01 14.3% 14.8%
2012-05-01 14.9% 15.0%
2012-06-01 14.6% 15.0%
2012-07-01 14.7% 15.1%
2012-08-01 14.6% 14.8%
2012-09-01 14.6% 14.0%
2012-10-01 14.3% 14.9%
2012-11-01 14.1% 14.6%
2012-12-01 14.1% 15.0%
2013-01-01 14.4% 14.6%
2013-02-01 13.9% 14.6%
2013-03-01 13.6% 14.4%
2013-04-01 13.9% 14.1%
2013-05-01 13.8% 14.0%
2013-06-01 13.9% 14.6%
2013-07-01 13.8% 13.8%
2013-08-01 13.6% 13.6%
2013-09-01 13.5% 13.6%
2013-10-01 13.7% 13.7%
2013-11-01 13.0% 13.2%
2013-12-01 12.8% 13.3%
2014-01-01 12.5% 12.9%
2014-02-01 12.6% 12.6%
2014-03-01 12.4% 13.0%
2014-04-01 12.0% 12.8%
2014-05-01 11.9% 12.7%
2014-06-01 11.8% 12.4%
2014-07-01 11.8% 12.6%
2014-08-01 11.5% 12.4%
2014-09-01 11.2% 12.2%
2014-10-01 11.1% 12.0%
2014-11-01 11.1% 11.7%
2014-12-01 11.1% 11.3%
2015-01-01 11.1% 11.3%
2015-02-01 10.8% 11.1%
2015-03-01 10.7% 11.2%
2015-04-01 10.7% 11.1%
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Note: Shaded areas denote recessions. Underemployment is measured to correspond to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' U-6 measure as "total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force."  Underemployment is seasonally adjusted.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics  basic monthly Current Population Survey microdata

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  1. Wage growth needs to be stronger and consistently strong for a solid spell before we call this a strong economy. As shown below, nominal wage growth since the recovery officially began in mid-2009 has been low and flat. This isn’t surprising–the weak labor market of the last seven years has put enormous downward pressure on wages. Employers don’t have to offer big wage increases to get and keep the workers they need. And this remains true even as a jobs recovery has consistently forged ahead in recent years.

The Federal Reserve has so far read the signs right and kept its foot off the brakes. We will continue tracking the growth in nominal wages, looking for signs of any acceleration, whether in the monthly or quarterly data from a variety of sources. And even acceleration from today’s sluggish rates of growth should not be taken as a worrisome signal of uncontrolled inflation; instead they should be taken as an encouraging sign that the economy is recovering. Given this, policymakers should hold off attempts to slow the recovery in the name of fighting inflation until a reasonable wage target is attained–see a fuller discussion of just such wage target here.

Nominal Wage Tracker

Nominal wage growth has been far below target in the recovery: Year-over-year change in private-sector nominal average hourly earnings, 2007–2017

Date All nonfarm employees Production/nonsupervisory workers
Mar-2007 3.44% 4.17%
Apr-2007 3.13% 3.85%
May-2007 3.53% 4.14%
Jun-2007 3.61% 4.13%
Jul-2007 3.25% 4.05%
Aug-2007 3.35% 4.04%
Sep-2007 3.09% 4.09%
Oct-2007 3.03% 3.72%
Nov-2007 3.07% 3.89%
Dec-2007 2.92% 3.75%
Jan-2008 2.91% 3.80%
Feb-2008 2.85% 3.79%
Mar-2008 3.04% 3.71%
Apr-2008 2.89% 3.70%
May-2008 3.07% 3.69%
Jun-2008 2.67% 3.62%
Jul-2008 3.05% 3.67%
Aug-2008 3.33% 3.89%
Sep-2008 3.28% 3.70%
Oct-2008 3.32% 3.93%
Nov-2008 3.50% 3.80%
Dec-2008 3.59% 3.90%
Jan-2009 3.58% 3.72%
Feb-2009 3.43% 3.65%
Mar-2009 3.28% 3.53%
Apr-2009 3.37% 3.35%
May-2009 2.93% 3.11%
Jun-2009 2.88% 2.88%
Jul-2009 2.69% 2.76%
Aug-2009 2.44% 2.64%
Sep-2009 2.44% 2.75%
Oct-2009 2.53% 2.68%
Nov-2009 2.15% 2.73%
Dec-2009 1.96% 2.50%
Jan-2010 2.09% 2.66%
Feb-2010 2.09% 2.55%
Mar-2010 1.81% 2.27%
Apr-2010 1.81% 2.38%
May-2010 1.90% 2.54%
Jun-2010 1.76% 2.53%
Jul-2010 1.85% 2.42%
Aug-2010 1.75% 2.36%
Sep-2010 1.84% 2.19%
Oct-2010 1.93% 2.51%
Nov-2010 1.79% 2.18%
Dec-2010 1.74% 2.02%
Jan-2011 1.92% 2.17%
Feb-2011 1.83% 2.06%
Mar-2011 1.83% 2.06%
Apr-2011 1.87% 2.11%
May-2011 2.04% 2.05%
Jun-2011 2.13% 2.05%
Jul-2011 2.30% 2.26%
Aug-2011 1.95% 1.99%
Sep-2011 1.94% 1.99%
Oct-2011 2.07% 1.72%
Nov-2011 1.98% 1.82%
Dec-2011 2.07% 1.87%
Jan-2012 1.79% 1.40%
Feb-2012 1.79% 1.45%
Mar-2012 2.14% 1.71%
Apr-2012 2.09% 1.65%
May-2012 1.74% 1.44%
Jun-2012 1.96% 1.54%
Jul-2012 1.69% 1.33%
Aug-2012 1.86% 1.33%
Sep-2012 1.99% 1.38%
Oct-2012 1.51% 1.28%
Nov-2012 1.94% 1.43%
Dec-2012 2.11% 1.58%
Jan-2013 2.06% 1.89%
Feb-2013 2.19% 2.04%
Mar-2013 1.88% 1.88%
Apr-2013 1.97% 1.78%
May-2013 2.14% 1.93%
Jun-2013 2.17% 2.03%
Jul-2013 2.04% 2.03%
Aug-2013 2.26% 2.23%
Sep-2013 2.08% 2.28%
Oct-2013 2.25% 2.27%
Nov-2013 2.20% 2.37%
Dec-2013 1.98% 2.26%
Jan-2014 2.02% 2.31%
Feb-2014 2.23% 2.50%
Mar-2014 2.14% 2.35%
Apr-2014 2.01% 2.40%
May-2014 2.13% 2.44%
Jun-2014 2.00% 2.34%
Jul-2014 2.09% 2.38%
Aug-2014 2.21% 2.43%
Sep-2014 2.04% 2.27%
Oct-2014 2.03% 2.27%
Nov-2014 2.03% 2.21%
Dec-2014 1.86% 1.92%
Jan-2015 2.19% 2.01%
Feb-2015 1.93% 1.61%
Mar-2015 2.22% 2.00%
Apr-2015 2.26% 2.00%
May-2015 2.30% 2.14%
Jun-2015 2.09% 1.99%
Jul-2015 2.21% 2.04%
Aug-2015 2.24% 2.08%
Sep-2015 2.32% 2.13%
Oct-2015 2.56% 2.32%
Nov-2015 2.39% 2.12%
Dec-2015 2.52% 2.56%
Jan-2016 2.51% 2.45%
Feb-2016 2.38% 2.45%
Mar-2016 2.45% 2.44%
Apr-2016 2.61% 2.58%
May-2016 2.52% 2.33%
Jun-2016 2.64% 2.52%
Jul-2016 2.76% 2.61%
Aug-2016 2.55% 2.46%
Sep-2016 2.75% 2.65%
Oct-2016 2.74% 2.50%
Nov-2016 2.65% 2.50%
Dec-2016 2.85% 2.54%
Jan-2017 2.56% 2.39%
Feb-2017 2.84% 2.48%
Mar-2017 2.63% 2.34%
Apr-2017 2.51% 2.38%
May-2017 2.46% 2.42%
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*Nominal wage growth consistent with the Federal Reserve Board's 2 percent inflation target, 1.5 percent productivity growth, and a stable labor share of income.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics public data series

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  1. The quits rate (from the JOLTS data) remains stubborn (see chart below). A larger number of people voluntarily quitting their jobs indicates a strong labor market–one in which workers are able to leave jobs that are not right for them and find new ones. Before long, we should look for a return to pre-recession levels of voluntary quits, which would mean that fewer workers are locked into jobs they would leave if they could. But we are not there yet. Though the quits rate is generally trending in the right direction, progress has stalled out in recent months.

JOLTS

Hires, quits, and layoff rates, December 2000–April 2015

Month Hires rate Layoffs rate Quits rate
Dec-2000 4.1% 1.4% 2.3%
Jan-2001 4.4% 1.6% 2.6%
Feb-2001 4.1% 1.4% 2.5%
Mar-2001 4.2% 1.6% 2.4%
Apr-2001 4.0% 1.5% 2.4%
May-2001 4.0% 1.5% 2.4%
Jun-2001 3.8% 1.5% 2.3%
Jul-2001 3.9% 1.5% 2.2%
Aug-2001 3.8% 1.4% 2.1%
Sep-2001 3.8% 1.6% 2.1%
Oct-2001 3.8% 1.7% 2.2%
Nov-2001 3.7% 1.6% 2.0%
Dec-2001 3.7% 1.4% 2.0%
Jan-2002 3.7% 1.4% 2.2%
Feb-2002 3.7% 1.5% 2.0%
Mar-2002 3.5% 1.4% 1.9%
Apr-2002 3.8% 1.5% 2.1%
May-2002 3.8% 1.5% 2.1%
Jun-2002 3.7% 1.4% 2.0%
Jul-2002 3.8% 1.5% 2.1%
Aug-2002 3.7% 1.4% 2.0%
Sep-2002 3.7% 1.4% 2.0%
Oct-2002 3.7% 1.4% 2.0%
Nov-2002 3.8% 1.5% 1.9%
Dec-2002 3.8% 1.5% 2.0%
Jan-2003 3.8% 1.5% 1.9%
Feb-2003 3.6% 1.5% 1.9%
Mar-2003 3.4% 1.4% 1.9%
Apr-2003 3.6% 1.6% 1.8%
May-2003 3.5% 1.5% 1.8%
Jun-2003 3.7% 1.6% 1.8%
Jul-2003 3.6% 1.6% 1.8%
Aug-2003 3.6% 1.5% 1.8%
Sep-2003 3.7% 1.5% 1.9%
Oct-2003 3.8% 1.4% 1.9%
Nov-2003 3.6% 1.4% 1.9%
Dec-2003 3.8% 1.5% 1.9%
Jan-2004 3.7% 1.5% 1.9%
Feb-2004 3.6% 1.4% 1.9%
Mar-2004 3.9% 1.4% 2.0%
Apr-2004 3.9% 1.5% 2.0%
May-2004 3.8% 1.4% 1.9%
Jun-2004 3.8% 1.4% 2.0%
Jul-2004 3.7% 1.4% 2.0%
Aug-2004 3.9% 1.5% 2.0%
Sep-2004 3.8% 1.4% 2.0%
Oct-2004 3.9% 1.4% 2.0%
Nov-2004 3.9% 1.5% 2.1%
Dec-2004 4.0% 1.5% 2.1%
Jan-2005 3.9% 1.4% 2.1%
Feb-2005 3.9% 1.4% 2.0%
Mar-2005 3.9% 1.5% 2.1%
Apr-2005 4.0% 1.4% 2.1%
May-2005 3.9% 1.4% 2.1%
Jun-2005 3.9% 1.5% 2.1%
Jul-2005 3.9% 1.4% 2.0%
Aug-2005 4.0% 1.4% 2.2%
Sep-2005 4.0% 1.4% 2.3%
Oct-2005 3.8% 1.3% 2.2%
Nov-2005 3.9% 1.2% 2.2%
Dec-2005 3.7% 1.3% 2.1%
Jan-2006 3.9% 1.3% 2.1%
Feb-2006 3.9% 1.3% 2.2%
Mar-2006 3.9% 1.2% 2.2%
Apr-2006 3.8% 1.3% 2.1%
May-2006 4.0% 1.4% 2.2%
Jun-2006 3.9% 1.2% 2.2%
Jul-2006 3.9% 1.3% 2.2%
Aug-2006 3.8% 1.2% 2.2%
Sep-2006 3.8% 1.3% 2.1%
Oct-2006 3.8% 1.3% 2.1%
Nov-2006 4.0% 1.3% 2.3%
Dec-2006 3.8% 1.3% 2.2%
Jan-2007 3.8% 1.2% 2.2%
Feb-2007 3.8% 1.3% 2.2%
Mar-2007 3.8% 1.3% 2.2%
Apr-2007 3.7% 1.3% 2.1%
May-2007 3.8% 1.3% 2.2%
Jun-2007 3.8% 1.3% 2.0%
Jul-2007 3.7% 1.3% 2.1%
Aug-2007 3.7% 1.3% 2.1%
Sep-2007 3.7% 1.5% 1.9%
Oct-2007 3.8% 1.4% 2.1%
Nov-2007 3.7% 1.4% 2.0%
Dec-2007 3.6% 1.3% 2.0%
Jan-2008 3.5% 1.3% 2.0%
Feb-2008 3.5% 1.4% 2.0%
Mar-2008 3.4% 1.3% 1.9%
Apr-2008 3.5% 1.3% 2.1%
May-2008 3.3% 1.3% 1.9%
Jun-2008 3.5% 1.5% 1.9%
Jul-2008 3.3% 1.4% 1.8%
Aug-2008 3.3% 1.6% 1.7%
Sep-2008 3.1% 1.4% 1.8%
Oct-2008 3.3% 1.6% 1.8%
Nov-2008 2.9% 1.6% 1.5%
Dec-2008 3.2% 1.8% 1.6%
Jan-2009 3.1% 1.9% 1.5%
Feb-2009 3.0% 1.9% 1.5%
Mar-2009 2.8% 1.8% 1.4%
Apr-2009 2.9% 2.0% 1.3%
May-2009 2.8% 1.6% 1.3%
Jun-2009 2.8% 1.6% 1.3%
Jul-2009 2.9% 1.7% 1.3%
Aug-2009 2.9% 1.6% 1.3%
Sep-2009 3.0% 1.6% 1.3%
Oct-2009 2.9% 1.5% 1.3%
Nov-2009 3.1% 1.4% 1.4%
Dec-2009 2.9% 1.5% 1.3%
Jan-2010 3.0% 1.4% 1.3%
Feb-2010 2.9% 1.4% 1.3%
Mar-2010 3.2% 1.4% 1.4%
Apr-2010 3.1% 1.3% 1.5%
May-2010 3.3% 1.3% 1.4%
Jun-2010 3.1% 1.5% 1.5%
Jul-2010 3.2% 1.6% 1.4%
Aug-2010 3.0% 1.4% 1.4%
Sep-2010 3.1% 1.4% 1.5%
Oct-2010 3.1% 1.3% 1.4%
Nov-2010 3.1% 1.4% 1.4%
Dec-2010 3.2% 1.4% 1.5%
Jan-2011 3.0% 1.3% 1.4%
Feb-2011 3.1% 1.3% 1.4%
Mar-2011 3.3% 1.3% 1.5%
Apr-2011 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
May-2011 3.1% 1.3% 1.5%
Jun-2011 3.3% 1.4% 1.5%
Jul-2011 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Aug-2011 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Sep-2011 3.3% 1.3% 1.5%
Oct-2011 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Nov-2011 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Dec-2011 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Jan-2012 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Feb-2012 3.3% 1.3% 1.6%
Mar-2012 3.3% 1.3% 1.6%
Apr-2012 3.2% 1.4% 1.6%
May-2012 3.3% 1.4% 1.6%
Jun-2012 3.2% 1.3% 1.6%
Jul-2012 3.2% 1.2% 1.6%
Aug-2012 3.3% 1.4% 1.6%
Sep-2012 3.1% 1.3% 1.4%
Oct-2012 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Nov-2012 3.3% 1.3% 1.6%
Dec-2012 3.2% 1.1% 1.6%
Jan-2013 3.3% 1.2% 1.7%
Feb-2013 3.4% 1.2% 1.7%
Mar-2013 3.2% 1.3% 1.5%
Apr-2013 3.3% 1.3% 1.7%
May-2013 3.3% 1.3% 1.6%
Jun-2013 3.2% 1.2% 1.6%
Jul-2013 3.3% 1.2% 1.7%
Aug-2013 3.4% 1.2% 1.7%
Sep-2013 3.4% 1.3% 1.7%
Oct-2013 3.3% 1.1% 1.8%
Nov-2013 3.4% 1.1% 1.8%
Dec-2013 3.3% 1.2% 1.7%
Jan-2014 3.3% 1.3% 1.7%
Feb-2014 3.4% 1.2% 1.8%
Mar-2014 3.4% 1.2% 1.8%
Apr-2014 3.5% 1.2% 1.7%
May-2014 3.5% 1.2% 1.8%
Jun-2014 3.5% 1.2% 1.8%
Jul-2014 3.6% 1.3% 1.8%
Aug-2014 3.4% 1.2% 1.8%
Sep-2014 3.6% 1.2% 2.0%
Oct-2014 3.7% 1.2% 2.0%
Nov-2014 3.6% 1.1% 1.9%
Dec-2014 3.7% 1.2% 1.9%
Jan-2015 3.5% 1.2% 2.0%
Feb-2015 3.6% 1.2% 1.9%
Mar-2015 3.6% 1.3% 2.0%
Apr-2015 3.5% 1.3% 1.9%

 

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Note: Shaded areas denote recessions. The hires rate is the number of hires during the entire month as a percent of total employment. The layoff rate is the number of layoffs and discharges during the entire month as a percent of total employment. The quits rate is the number of quits during the entire month as a percent of total employment.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey

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  1. For a stronger labor market, wouldn’t it also be nice to see a reduction (dare I say elimination) of disparities, notably by race and gender? I could choose nearly any metric, but this is from our recent paper analyzing the job prospects for the graduating Class of 2015. The figure shows clear disparities in the unemployment rate by race. That research also shows that straight out of college, women earn $3 less per hour than men, on average.
Figure C

Unemployment rate of young high school graduates, by race/ethnicity, 1989–2015*

Date White Black Hispanic
1989-12-01 10.0% 27.8% 15.4%
1990-01-01 9.9% 27.3% 14.4%
1990-02-01 9.9% 26.8% 14.3%
1990-03-01 9.9% 26.4% 14.6%
1990-04-01 9.9% 25.9% 15.0%
1990-05-01 9.9% 25.3% 14.9%
1990-06-01 9.7% 24.3% 14.3%
1990-07-01 9.9% 24.2% 14.1%
1990-08-01 10.0% 24.3% 13.6%
1990-09-01 10.2% 24.1% 13.5%
1990-10-01 10.4% 24.8% 13.2%
1990-11-01 10.5% 25.1% 13.1%
1990-12-01 10.7% 25.9% 13.3%
1991-01-01 10.9% 26.4% 14.0%
1991-02-01 11.4% 27.1% 14.6%
1991-03-01 11.6% 27.7% 14.8%
1991-04-01 11.7% 28.6% 14.7%
1991-05-01 11.9% 29.6% 15.2%
1991-06-01 12.4% 31.0% 15.7%
1991-07-01 12.4% 31.5% 16.8%
1991-08-01 12.6% 32.0% 17.2%
1991-09-01 12.8% 32.1% 17.7%
1991-10-01 12.8% 32.8% 17.6%
1991-11-01 12.9% 32.9% 17.7%
1991-12-01 13.2% 32.6% 17.8%
1992-01-01 13.2% 32.1% 17.9%
1992-02-01 13.2% 32.1% 18.6%
1992-03-01 13.4% 32.1% 18.7%
1992-04-01 13.5% 32.3% 18.7%
1992-05-01 13.7% 32.8% 19.3%
1992-06-01 13.8% 33.0% 20.0%
1992-07-01 13.9% 32.8% 19.9%
1992-08-01 13.9% 32.4% 19.4%
1992-09-01 13.9% 32.8% 19.3%
1992-10-01 13.9% 32.2% 19.7%
1992-11-01 14.0% 31.8% 20.0%
1992-12-01 13.9% 32.4% 20.1%
1993-01-01 13.7% 32.8% 20.2%
1993-02-01 13.6% 32.9% 19.3%
1993-03-01 13.4% 33.8% 19.4%
1993-04-01 13.4% 34.0% 20.3%
1993-05-01 13.4% 33.4% 19.7%
1993-06-01 13.2% 32.8% 19.0%
1993-07-01 13.0% 32.7% 18.5%
1993-08-01 13.1% 32.3% 18.6%
1993-09-01 12.9% 31.8% 18.5%
1993-10-01 13.0% 31.3% 19.2%
1993-11-01 12.8% 32.2% 19.2%
1993-12-01 12.7% 32.2% 19.5%
1994-01-01 12.7% 32.1% 19.2%
1994-02-01 12.7% 31.8% 19.1%
1994-03-01 12.9% 31.2% 19.1%
1994-04-01 12.6% 30.7% 18.8%
1994-05-01 12.2% 31.4% 18.0%
1994-06-01 12.0% 31.3% 18.3%
1994-07-01 12.0% 31.1% 18.5%
1994-08-01 11.6% 31.9% 18.4%
1994-09-01 11.7% 31.9% 18.4%
1994-10-01 11.4% 32.3% 17.6%
1994-11-01 11.3% 31.1% 17.4%
1994-12-01 11.1% 31.1% 17.4%
1995-01-01 11.0% 31.7% 17.1%
1995-02-01 10.5% 31.7% 16.9%
1995-03-01 10.4% 31.0% 16.2%
1995-04-01 10.6% 30.8% 15.6%
1995-05-01 10.9% 29.4% 16.2%
1995-06-01 11.1% 29.2% 16.2%
1995-07-01 11.2% 29.9% 15.4%
1995-08-01 11.2% 30.3% 15.5%
1995-09-01 11.4% 31.5% 15.4%
1995-10-01 11.5% 31.2% 15.8%
1995-11-01 11.6% 31.2% 15.9%
1995-12-01 11.7% 30.7% 16.5%
1996-01-01 11.8% 30.3% 17.8%
1996-02-01 12.0% 29.8% 18.3%
1996-03-01 12.0% 29.7% 18.8%
1996-04-01 11.8% 29.7% 19.0%
1996-05-01 11.7% 30.1% 19.1%
1996-06-01 11.5% 29.9% 18.5%
1996-07-01 11.4% 29.9% 19.0%
1996-08-01 11.4% 29.5% 18.6%
1996-09-01 11.5% 29.0% 19.0%
1996-10-01 11.6% 29.6% 19.1%
1996-11-01 11.6% 29.2% 19.9%
1996-12-01 11.6% 29.8% 19.8%
1997-01-01 11.9% 29.9% 18.7%
1997-02-01 11.9% 30.5% 18.4%
1997-03-01 11.7% 30.6% 17.8%
1997-04-01 11.7% 30.6% 17.6%
1997-05-01 11.4% 30.4% 17.0%
1997-06-01 11.6% 30.5% 16.5%
1997-07-01 11.5% 29.3% 17.0%
1997-08-01 11.4% 28.8% 17.4%
1997-09-01 11.3% 28.1% 16.8%
1997-10-01 11.1% 27.9% 16.6%
1997-11-01 10.9% 29.0% 15.4%
1997-12-01 10.8% 28.2% 14.4%
1998-01-01 10.5% 27.9% 14.3%
1998-02-01 10.5% 27.0% 14.3%
1998-03-01 10.5% 26.2% 14.8%
1998-04-01 10.4% 25.5% 14.6%
1998-05-01 10.5% 25.5% 15.1%
1998-06-01 10.2% 25.0% 15.5%
1998-07-01 10.1% 25.2% 14.5%
1998-08-01 10.0% 25.3% 14.4%
1998-09-01 9.9% 25.3% 15.6%
1998-10-01 9.9% 25.0% 15.2%
1998-11-01 9.9% 24.0% 15.6%
1998-12-01 9.7% 23.7% 15.7%
1999-01-01 9.8% 23.7% 15.4%
1999-02-01 9.6% 24.3% 15.0%
1999-03-01 9.4% 24.9% 14.6%
1999-04-01 9.4% 25.4% 14.5%
1999-05-01 9.4% 24.7% 14.4%
1999-06-01 9.3% 24.3% 14.1%
1999-07-01 9.3% 24.4% 14.2%
1999-08-01 9.2% 24.1% 14.2%
1999-09-01 9.2% 24.2% 13.6%
1999-10-01 9.2% 24.5% 13.4%
1999-11-01 9.1% 25.4% 13.1%
1999-12-01 9.2% 24.8% 13.8%
2000-01-01 9.2% 24.3% 13.9%
2000-02-01 9.3% 23.6% 13.5%
2000-03-01 9.5% 24.0% 13.3%
2000-04-01 9.5% 23.9% 12.9%
2000-05-01 9.6% 24.2% 12.4%
2000-06-01 9.6% 24.2% 12.7%
2000-07-01 9.6% 24.0% 12.5%
2000-08-01 9.7% 24.2% 12.5%
2000-09-01 9.5% 23.6% 11.9%
2000-10-01 9.6% 23.1% 11.5%
2000-11-01 9.8% 22.1% 11.6%
2000-12-01 9.8% 22.7% 11.4%
2001-01-01 9.8% 22.7% 11.4%
2001-02-01 9.8% 22.7% 11.7%
2001-03-01 9.9% 22.2% 12.1%
2001-04-01 9.8% 22.6% 12.7%
2001-05-01 9.7% 21.8% 12.6%
2001-06-01 9.8% 22.4% 12.4%
2001-07-01 10.0% 22.1% 13.3%
2001-08-01 10.2% 22.3% 13.7%
2001-09-01 10.6% 23.5% 14.1%
2001-10-01 10.8% 23.7% 15.3%
2001-11-01 10.8% 25.6% 15.6%
2001-12-01 11.0% 26.8% 15.5%
2002-01-01 11.2% 27.5% 15.6%
2002-02-01 11.5% 28.2% 15.4%
2002-03-01 11.9% 28.4% 15.2%
2002-04-01 12.4% 28.4% 14.9%
2002-05-01 12.8% 28.5% 15.4%
2002-06-01 13.1% 28.7% 15.8%
2002-07-01 13.6% 29.2% 15.3%
2002-08-01 13.8% 29.8% 15.5%
2002-09-01 13.8% 29.8% 15.5%
2002-10-01 13.8% 30.1% 15.4%
2002-11-01 14.0% 29.3% 15.3%
2002-12-01 14.1% 28.3% 15.1%
2003-01-01 14.1% 28.7% 15.6%
2003-02-01 14.1% 28.9% 15.9%
2003-03-01 13.9% 29.2% 16.3%
2003-04-01 13.8% 29.7% 16.6%
2003-05-01 13.7% 31.4% 16.7%
2003-06-01 13.9% 31.7% 16.8%
2003-07-01 13.7% 32.1% 17.4%
2003-08-01 13.8% 31.7% 17.0%
2003-09-01 13.8% 31.7% 17.1%
2003-10-01 13.9% 32.0% 16.7%
2003-11-01 14.1% 32.1% 16.9%
2003-12-01 14.1% 32.5% 17.5%
2004-01-01 14.1% 31.7% 17.1%
2004-02-01 14.0% 31.0% 17.4%
2004-03-01 14.1% 30.9% 17.9%
2004-04-01 14.1% 30.7% 17.9%
2004-05-01 14.2% 29.7% 17.9%
2004-06-01 13.9% 29.2% 17.7%
2004-07-01 13.8% 29.6% 17.3%
2004-08-01 13.7% 28.8% 17.6%
2004-09-01 13.8% 28.2% 17.9%
2004-10-01 13.7% 27.6% 18.2%
2004-11-01 13.3% 27.9% 18.0%
2004-12-01 13.3% 27.6% 17.1%
2005-01-01 13.2% 28.0% 17.0%
2005-02-01 13.4% 28.5% 16.8%
2005-03-01 13.4% 28.7% 16.7%
2005-04-01 13.4% 28.6% 16.5%
2005-05-01 13.2% 29.3% 16.8%
2005-06-01 13.4% 29.7% 16.8%
2005-07-01 13.5% 28.9% 16.3%
2005-08-01 13.8% 29.7% 16.3%
2005-09-01 13.7% 30.0% 16.0%
2005-10-01 13.7% 29.5% 15.9%
2005-11-01 13.4% 29.3% 15.8%
2005-12-01 13.0% 29.0% 16.1%
2006-01-01 13.1% 29.2% 16.4%
2006-02-01 12.8% 29.2% 16.3%
2006-03-01 12.9% 28.3% 15.6%
2006-04-01 13.0% 28.2% 15.4%
2006-05-01 13.2% 27.3% 14.9%
2006-06-01 12.9% 26.5% 14.8%
2006-07-01 12.8% 27.0% 14.6%
2006-08-01 12.7% 27.0% 13.9%
2006-09-01 12.8% 27.3% 13.5%
2006-10-01 13.0% 27.7% 12.9%
2006-11-01 13.4% 27.4% 12.5%
2006-12-01 13.7% 28.2% 12.2%
2007-01-01 13.6% 28.0% 12.0%
2007-02-01 13.4% 27.6% 11.9%
2007-03-01 13.3% 27.7% 11.7%
2007-04-01 13.2% 28.1% 11.3%
2007-05-01 13.0% 28.7% 11.5%
2007-06-01 13.2% 30.1% 11.5%
2007-07-01 13.0% 30.0% 12.5%
2007-08-01 13.1% 30.0% 13.0%
2007-09-01 13.1% 29.5% 13.0%
2007-10-01 13.0% 29.6% 13.5%
2007-11-01 13.0% 29.5% 13.7%
2007-12-01 13.1% 30.4% 14.3%
2008-01-01 13.5% 30.5% 14.4%
2008-02-01 13.9% 31.0% 14.4%
2008-03-01 14.3% 31.7% 14.9%
2008-04-01 14.3% 31.1% 16.0%
2008-05-01 14.7% 31.1% 16.3%
2008-06-01 15.0% 30.4% 16.4%
2008-07-01 15.6% 30.8% 16.7%
2008-08-01 15.8% 30.8% 17.3%
2008-09-01 16.0% 30.9% 18.1%
2008-10-01 16.4% 30.8% 18.7%
2008-11-01 17.1% 30.2% 19.6%
2008-12-01 17.7% 28.7% 19.5%
2009-01-01 18.0% 29.4% 19.9%
2009-02-01 18.6% 30.8% 20.6%
2009-03-01 18.7% 31.5% 21.1%
2009-04-01 19.2% 32.9% 21.3%
2009-05-01 19.4% 33.9% 22.5%
2009-06-01 19.7% 34.4% 23.4%
2009-07-01 20.4% 34.3% 23.9%
2009-08-01 21.5% 34.7% 24.6%
2009-09-01 22.2% 36.0% 25.0%
2009-10-01 23.1% 37.4% 25.6%
2009-11-01 23.6% 39.3% 25.9%
2009-12-01 23.8% 40.0% 27.3%
2010-01-01 24.4% 39.9% 28.5%
2010-02-01 24.7% 38.8% 29.2%
2010-03-01 24.9% 37.4% 29.7%
2010-04-01 25.4% 36.5% 29.9%
2010-05-01 25.8% 35.5% 29.6%
2010-06-01 25.9% 35.1% 29.9%
2010-07-01 25.5% 35.5% 30.0%
2010-08-01 25.1% 36.0% 29.6%
2010-09-01 24.9% 36.9% 29.3%
2010-10-01 24.4% 36.7% 29.4%
2010-11-01 24.1% 36.6% 29.3%
2010-12-01 24.0% 37.0% 28.7%
2011-01-01 23.7% 37.6% 28.4%
2011-02-01 23.2% 37.5% 28.4%
2011-03-01 23.3% 38.4% 28.4%
2011-04-01 23.0% 39.3% 28.3%
2011-05-01 22.7% 40.2% 28.0%
2011-06-01 22.3% 41.2% 27.6%
2011-07-01 22.6% 41.7% 27.8%
2011-08-01 22.1% 42.0% 28.6%
2011-09-01 22.0% 40.8% 28.6%
2011-10-01 22.0% 40.5% 28.5%
2011-11-01 21.7% 40.8% 29.1%
2011-12-01 21.3% 41.2% 29.1%
2012-01-01 21.4% 41.0% 28.8%
2012-02-01 21.4% 41.4% 28.3%
2012-03-01 21.3% 41.4% 27.7%
2012-04-01 21.4% 40.9% 27.1%
2012-05-01 21.7% 40.8% 27.7%
2012-06-01 21.9% 40.7% 28.1%
2012-07-01 21.7% 40.2% 27.3%
2012-08-01 22.0% 39.9% 26.6%
2012-09-01 22.2% 40.5% 26.5%
2012-10-01 22.4% 40.9% 26.7%
2012-11-01 22.0% 40.7% 26.2%
2012-12-01 22.0% 39.6% 26.5%
2013-01-01 21.9% 38.1% 26.1%
2013-02-01 21.8% 37.8% 25.8%
2013-03-01 21.8% 37.6% 26.0%
2013-04-01 21.6% 37.8% 26.2%
2013-05-01 21.4% 38.5% 24.9%
2013-06-01 21.7% 39.3% 24.2%
2013-07-01 21.3% 39.2% 24.1%
2013-08-01 21.4% 39.3% 24.5%
2013-09-01 21.0% 38.0% 25.2%
2013-10-01 20.8% 36.8% 24.9%
2013-11-01 20.9% 35.7% 24.5%
2013-12-01 20.4% 35.4% 23.8%
2014-01-01 19.9% 35.7% 23.6%
2014-02-01 19.7% 35.1% 23.2%
2014-03-01 19.4% 34.7% 23.2%
2014-04-01 19.1% 33.5% 22.8%
2014-05-01 18.9% 31.6% 22.7%
2014-06-01 18.3% 30.2% 22.6%
2014-07-01 18.4% 29.9% 22.8%
2014-08-01 18.0% 28.8% 21.4%
2014-09-01 17.8% 28.9% 20.7%
2014-10-01 17.6% 29.6% 20.3%
2014-11-01 17.4% 30.3% 20.0%
2014-12-01 17.4% 30.4% 19.7%
2015-01-01 17.4% 30.3% 19.6%
2015-02-01 17.3% 30.1% 19.8%
2015-03-01 17.2% 29.7% 19.5%
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* Data reflect 12-month moving averages; data for 2015 represent 12-month average from April 2014 to March 2015.

Note: Shaded areas denote recessions. Data are for high school graduates age 17–20 who are not enrolled in further schooling. Race/ethnicity categories are mutually exclusive (i.e., white non-Hispanic, black non-Hispanic, and Hispanic any race).

Source: EPI analysis of basic monthly Current Population Survey microdata

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  1. Bad news aside, it’s still important to recognize the wins. This week’s new overtime regulations increase the salary threshold – below which all workers are guaranteed overtime pay–from $23,660 to $50,440, benefiting at least 11 million workers, by their salary alone. Of course, there’s plenty more to be done to raise America’s pay and increase living standards, but it’s a start. And, a stronger economy would indeed help workers and their families, not only by providing jobs, but high quality jobs with decent wages and benefits.