Wages Are Growing, But Involuntary Part-Time Workers Are Increasing

The annual rate of wage growth in last quarter compared to the prior quarter was 3.3 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy added 155,000 jobs in November, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 3.7 percent. With a modest downward revision to the job growth reported for the prior two months, the average over the last three months was 170,000, a clear slowing from the 204,000 average rate over the last year. Both the overall and prime age (ages 25–54) employment-to-population ratios (EPOP) were unchanged in November at their highs for the recovery.

Within the prime-age population there have been notable differences in employment patterns over the last year. Overall, the EPOP is up by 0.7 percentage points over the year. Monthly data are erratic for subgroups, so taking three-month averages finds the sharpest increase is for men and women between the ages of 25–34, with a rise of 1.0 percentage points for both. The rise for the former group is especially noteworthy since some economists had previously argued they had lost interest in work due to the attractiveness of video games.

Using three-month averages, the EPOP for men between the ages of 35–44 was unchanged over the year, while it rose 0.5 percentage points for women. For men between the ages of 45–54 the EPOP rose by 0.5 percentage points, while it rose by 0.8 percentage points for women in this age group. The EPOPs for men in all three age groups were still below prerecession peaks. For women, the EPOP for the 45 to 54 age group was still close to a percentage point below prerecession peaks. For the 35 to 44 age group, it is comparable to prerecession peaks but still close to two percentage points below 2000 peaks. For the 25 to 34 age group, the EPOP was above prerecession peaks and comparable to 2000 levels.

Other data in the household survey were mixed. The duration measures of unemployment all fell, with the median duration, at 8.9 weeks, tying its low for the recovery. By demographic…

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