Highlights:

Job growth recovers modestly in April.
• For women, the Index levels remain unchanged compared to the previous month but recovered for men.
• Index levels, overall and by gender, remain lower than their pre-pandemic levels.

Welch Consulting Employment Index Apr-2021Welch Consulting Employment Index recovers for both genders
Introduction

The Welch Index is a data analytics tool used by our labor economists to measure full-time equivalent employment after adjustment for population growth and the aging of the workforce. An Index value of 100.0 indicates that the adjusted full-time equivalent employment level is the same as its level in the base period of July, 2004.

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

For example, over the past 12 months the Index has improved 10.6 points, from 87.9 to 98.5. This means that full-time equivalent employment level increased at a rate 10.6% faster than the increase in the U.S. adult population over the past year (after making adjustments for the aging of the population).

Over the past three years, the overall Index value has declined by 2.8 points or at an average rate of approximately .93 points per year. This average rate of decline is an improvement over what it was in March. Looking by gender, we find that the Index for men is down 3.9 points while the Index for women is down 1.6 points over the past three years.

Employment Levels Continue to Recover in April

April 2021 saw an improvement in employment levels relative to what it was a year ago. The Welch Index had declined to 87.9 points last year this time with Welch Consulting Employment Indexthe onset of the pandemic. Compared to that, it increased by 10.6 points to 98.5 in April of this year. This is an increase of .2 points compared to the previous month and .6 points compared to the levels in January and February of 2021.

The percent of the initial January to April decline that has been recovered till date increased from 64% in February, over 67% in March to about 68% in April. Despite steady recovery over the past few months, the Welch Index remains well below its pre-pandemic levels.

Employment Levels Increase for Men

The Welch Index for men continued to recover into April. The index increased from 95.2 points in February, 95.3 points in March to 95.6 points in April. Men have now recovered over 65% of the decline in employment levels that they experienced between January to April of 2020. To return to pre-pandemic January levels, their Index would have to improve by 4.8 points.

The Index for women had been steadily improving between January to March. In April, however, the Index remained stable at 102 points. As a result, the percent of the initial January to April decline that women reversed remained stable at approximately 71% in both March and April. To return to the pre-pandemic levels of 106.9 points in January, their Index would need to recover by 4.9 points.

With the rise in employment levels for men, the difference in the Index values between that of women and men declined from 6.7 points in March to 6.4 points in April.

Underlying Factors Behind the Trends and Concluding Remarks

Our economic consulting experts find that the improvement in Index levels, although below expectation was largely driven by Leisure and Hospitality. It is reflective of the vaccine rollout and overall COVID recovery. Other sectors such as Manufacturing, Retail, Health Care, and Information on the other hand experienced a decline in employment levels.

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 adjusts for the changing age distribution of the population by fixing the age distribution of adults to the distribution in the base year of 2004. Seasonal effects for the share of workers employed in part-time jobs are removed in a regression framework using monthly indicator variables.

 

References:
Ahearn, T. May 7, 2021. April 2021 Jobs Report Shows 266,000 Jobs Added in COVID-19 Recovery. Employment Screening Resources. https://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2021/05/07/april-2021-jobs-report/