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We’re not at full employment yet

We’re not at full employment yet


POSTED April 12, 2017 9:19 a.m.
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Good news. We're not at full employment yet, and last month's jobs numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics prove it.

In the household survey, 472,000 more Americans reported they had jobs in March, including 145,000 who entered the labor force.

That follows those reported as employed increasing 447,000 in February, including 340,000 who had entered the labor force.

That's almost a million jobs created in just two months and 485,000 entering the labor force in just two months.

Such gains are possible, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning noted, because there is actually a lot of slack in U.S. labor markets despite to low reported unemployment figure.

"The U.S. economy is going a long way to bringing back into the economy the roughly 9 million 16- to 64-year-olds who either left the labor force or did not enter on a net basis since labor participation peaked in 1997," Manning said in a statement, referring a to collapse in labor participation among working age adults this century.

That collapse has hit male participants more than female, with male participation 16-64 dropping 5.4 percentage points compared to females dropping 3.4 percentage points.

"President Trump spoke often of underemployment on the campaign trail, so he realizes than anyone that we've still got a ways to go. If those 9 million lost labor force were included in today's jobs report, the unemployment rate would still be north of 9 percent" instead of the reported 4.5 percent, Manning added.

Meaning there's a lot of room for the lost labor force to reenter the economy.

And to grow the economy, too, which has not exceeded an inflation-adjusted 4 percent since 2000 and not above 3 percent since 2005.

"[The last 10 years [have been] the worst in history from a growth perspective," Manning lamented, concluding, "With that in mind, it remains important that Congress support President Trump's agenda for better trade deals, lower taxes and few regulations so that today's gains can be sustained with an economy that grows robustly."

In the meantime, the economy is overdue for another recession, averaging one every six to seven years. It's been more than eight years since the last downturn.

Another ill omen might actually be the current robust expansion of labor markets, which tend to peak right before recessions.

Alternately, however, the slow growth of the past decade might mute the onset of another downturn. There was no boom, so why a bust?

Either way, we do have a long way to get to robust growth once again, let alone full employment. If the economy is not expanding, there's not much reason to expect a plethora of new jobs, reflecting increased demand for labor, and thus, higher incomes.

Stay tuned.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

 

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