Highlights

  • Employment levels recover overall for all three race groups–Hispanics, African Americans, and Whites.
  • However, White women, Hispanic women, and African American men experienced a decline in Index levels.
  • For all races, current Index values remained below their pre-pandemic levels.

Welch Index by Race Graph August 2021

Introduction

The Welch Index for Race is a data analytics tool used by our labor economists to measure full-time equivalent employment for Hispanics, African Americans, and Whites after adjustment for population growth. An Index value of 100.0 indicates that this adjusted full-time equivalent employment level is the same as what it was in July 2019.

Any decrease (or increase) in the Index value over a particular period implies that full-time equivalent employment level has decreased (or increased) relative to the growth of the adult population during that period.

For example, over the past 12 months, the Index has increased 5.5 points for African Americans, from 88.7 to 94.2.  In other words, the level of full-time equivalent employment for African Americans has increased at a rate 5.5% faster than the increase in the U.S. African American adult population over the past year.  For Whites, the Index increased by 2.2 points, and by 5 points for Hispanics over the same period.

For all race groups, the bulk of the last one-year decline has occurred between January and April 2020. This is attributable to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and related lockdown measures.

Welch Consulting offers  data consulting services to help employers analyze and learn from large and complex data.

Employment Levels Recover for All Groups

For Whites, the employment levels have continued to increase since June of this year. This Index increased by .9 points between June and July, and by a smaller margin of .2 points after rising from 96.3 points to 96.5 points between July and August.

For African Americans, the Index declined by .4 points in July, but recovered again, from 93.9 points in July to 94.2 points in August.

For Hispanics, Index levels have shown a generally steady recovery since the start of this year. Once again, their employment levels increased, but by a modest margin of .1 points, from 96.5 points in July to 96.6 points in August.

Welch Index By Race Chart August 2021With this recovery, the Hispanic Index remains 5.4 points lower than its level in January 2020. For African Americans and Whites, on the other hand, employment levels would have to rise by 5.5 points and 4.1 points, respectively, in order to return to their pre-pandemic January 2020 levels.

Employment Levels Decline for White Women, Hispanic Women, and African American Men

The Index levels in August increased for White and Hispanic men, but declined for African American men. For White men, the Index increased by .6 points, from 95.4 in July to 96.0 in August. For Hispanic men, the Index increased by .5 points, from 97.5 in July to 98.0 in August.  However, the Index declined by .4 points for African American men from 94.2 points in July to 93.8 points in August.

To return to January 2020 levels, employment would have to increase by 4.8, 4.7, and 4 points for African American men, Hispanic men, and White men, respectively.

Welch Index by Race and Gender Chart August 2021With the exception of a marginal decline in June, the Index for African American women has shown a steady recovery since the start of the year. After declining by .1 points in June, their Index increased by .9 points, from 93.6 points in July to 94.5 points in August. Index levels have now recovered close to 61% of the initial January-April 2020 decline.

On the other hand, the Index declined for both White and Hispanic women. For White women, the Index declined by .3 points, from 97.4 points in July to 97.1 points in August.  The Index for Hispanic women declined by .5 points, from 95.1 in July to 94.6 in August.  White and Hispanic women have respectively recovered close to 71% and 69% of the initial decline that they experienced between January to April of last year.

Underlying Factors Behind Employment Index Trends and Concluding Remarks

Our economic consulting experts find that recovery in employment levels was not uniform by race in August.  Index levels increased overall for all race groups, but declined for Hispanic women, White women, and African American men. This is consistent with the fact that employment growth varied across the different employment sectors in which these groups are statistically well-represented. For example, Leisure and Hospitality–which has been generally showing optimistic growth over the last few months–did not experience job recovery in this past month.

Technical Note: Full-time equivalent employment equals full-time employment plus one half of part-time employment from the BLS household survey (the Current Population Survey). The data reported for a given month is generally from the calendar week that contains the 12th day of the month. The Welch Index for race is based on individuals who are 20 years old and over. Seasonal effects for the share of workers employed in part-time jobs are removed in a regression framework using monthly indicator variables.

References:
Jobs report August 2021 shocker: Only 235,000 new jobs (cnbc.com)