The Welch Consulting Employment Index returned to 99.6 in December, down from 99.7 in November. Other than in November the Index has been holding steady at 99.6 since August 2016.

The Welch Index measures full-time equivalent employment after adjustment for population growth and the aging of the workforce. The Index value of 99.6 indicates that adjusted full-time equivalent employment is 0.4% below its level in the base year of 2004.

Over the past 12 months the index has risen from 99.0 to 99.6. 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 0.6% 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 99.3 in June 2016 to 99.6 currently – a small increase of 0.3%. This rate of change over the past 6 months and over the past year is lower than the overall trend for the last 3 years of about 1.0% increase per year.

The index for women was weaker in December than that for men. Women saw a modest decrease in employment in December, falling 0.2 from 101.9 to 101.7. The index for men held steady at 97.9. The combined index is sitting just off its highest level in over four years, as is the index for men. The index for women is 0.3 points below its October 2016 peak. For the past 12 months the index for men has risen 0.4 points and the index for women has risen 0.7 points.

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 var