The Welch Consulting Employment Index increased from 97.3 to 97.5 between August and September as the official unemployment rate fell below 6% and full-time employment increased by 671,000 – the largest one month increase in two and a half years.  The Welch Index measures full-time equivalent employment, adjusting for population growth and the aging of the workforce.

The Welch Index is about 1.1% higher than it was one year ago.  In other words employment grew about 1.1% faster than the rate of growth in the adult population over the past year.  The last time the Index was 97.5 was February of 2009, President Obama’s second month in office.

The Welch Index of 97.5 indicates that full-time equivalent employment is 2.5% below its level in the base year of 2004, after adjusting for population growth and changes in the age distribution of the labor force.  The index is about 5.2% below its peak in March of 2007.

The Welch Consulting Employment Index for women increased to 99.1, the highest it has been since May 2009.  The women’s index is 4.3% below its pre-recession peak.  The Welch Index for men increased from 95.9 to 96.3, as the number of men employed in full-time jobs increased by 426,000 and part-time employment of men decreased by 207,000.  Although the men’s index remains 6.0% below its peak in March 2007, the last time the men’s index reached this level was in December 2008.

Technical Note: Full-time equivalent employment equals full-time employment plus one half of part-time employment from the BLS household survey.  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.