The Welch Consulting Employment Index hit 100.0 in January, up from 99.6 in December. This is the highest value for the Index since October 2008.

The Welch Index measures full-time equivalent employment after adjustment for population growth and the aging of the workforce. The Index value of 100.0 indicates that adjusted full-time equivalent employment is the same as its level in the base year of 2004.

Over the past 12 months the index has risen from 99.2 to 100.0. The increase in the Index over the past year means that full-time equivalent employment has been growing at a faster rate than the adult population. Full-time equivalent employment increased 0.8% faster than the adult population over the past year (after making adjustments for the aging of the U.S. adult population). Looking back at the most recent 6 months, the index increased from 99.5 in July 2016 to 100.0 currently – a moderate increase of 0.5%. This rate of change over the past 6 months and over the past year is a bit lower than the overall trend for the last 3 years of about 1.1% increase per year.

The change in the index for women was again weaker in January than that for men. The index for women held steady at 101.7. The index for men jumped from 97.9 to 98.5, its biggest increase since November 2013. The index for women is 0.3 points below its October 2016 peak. For the past 12 months the index for men has risen 0.8 points and the index for women has risen 0.6 points.

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.