The Welch Consulting Employment Index rose 2.2 points in May, from 88.0 to 90.2. This bounce reverses over 16% of the Index’s precipitous decline in April. Still, a value of 90.2 is the second lowest the Index has held since its inception and is well below the record high of 103.4 set in January.

The Welch Index is a big 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 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 fallen from 102.1 to 90.2. The decrease in the Index over the past year indicates that full-time equivalent employment has been shrinking relative to the growth of the adult population. Put differently, full-time equivalent employment increased at a rate 11.9% slower than the increase in U.S. adult population over the past year (after making adjustments for aging). Looking back at the most recent 6 months, the Index fell from 103.1 in November to 90.2 currently. All of this year’s decline has occurred since January. The average rate of change over the past three years is a decrease of about 3.4% per year.

In May, the Index for women increased slightly more than the Index for men. The Index for women rose 2.5 points, from 89.7 to 92.2. The Index for men rose 2.0 points from 86.6 to 88.6. Both indices recovered about 16% of the decline they suffered in the previous month. Our economic consulting experts find these increases to be consistent with the uptick in employment following different cities’ decisions to loosen their COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Over the last three years the Index for women is down 10.7 points while the Index for men is down 9.9 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.