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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Least Hours on Record Since... Well... Ever

In a response to my post detailing how the employment rate could drop while the number of employed individuals continued to drop (i.e. fuzzy math), I received the following post from Ryan in connection with my chart showing the employment / population rate returning to levels seen 25 years ago.

Jake - why did you choose to leave out the 1970s and early 80s which would have likely shown the recent #s aren't out of line?
My response was:
i was just trying to show that we are at our 25 year low to put this into perspective. i didn't mean to cut off any data intentionally, but i can see where it would seem that way, so i do apologize.
So to make amends, here is the data since 1964 (the first year in which such data is available).

Is the employment to population ratio up since the 1960's? Sure. But that doesn't show the full picture. I continued...
that said the 1960's - 1970's data is too stale. that was when the two-income family didn't truly exist (i.e. when women weren't necessarily expected to work and/or given the same opportunity to do so). thus not remotely an apples for apples comparison.
Here is the data showing just that. While the employment to population ratio has risen from the 1960's, the number of hours worked is down dramatically. By looking at the aggregate amount of both (the employment to population ratio multiplied by the # of hours worked per week), we see the following....

A figure not only at the lowest level in 25 years, but the lowest in the full 45 years worth of data available.

Source: BLS