Highlights:

  • Overall job growth remains the same in February as it was in January.
  • For men, the Index declined marginally over the previous month.
  • The Welch Index for women recovered in January.
  • Index levels–overall and by gender–remain lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Welch Consulting Employment Index

Welch Consulting Employment Index by gender
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 (or increase) in the Index value over a particular period implies that the full-time equivalent employment level has decreased (or increased) relative to the growth of the adult population during that period.

For example, over the past 12 months, the Index has fallen 5.3 points, from 103.2 to 97.9. This means that the full-time equivalent employment level has increased at a rate 5.3% slower than the increase in the U.S. adult population over the same period (after making adjustments for the aging of the population).

Over the past three years, the overall Index value has declined by 3.4 points, or at an average rate of approximately 1.13 point per year.  This average rate of decline is an improvement of .4 points relative to what it was in January. Looking by gender, we find that the Index for women is down 2.3 points, while the Index for men is down 4.3 points over the past three years.

Employment Levels Experience No Change in February

For the first time since April of last year, the overall employment index experienced no change.  The index rose steadily from 87.9 points in April 2020 to 97.9 points in January, and remained at this level in February.

The fraction of the initial January to April decline that has been recovered to date remains at 64%, similar to what it was in the previous month, but higher than what it was in the post-April months of 2020.

Despite steady recovery over the past few months, the Welch Index remains at a lower level than in any of the previous three years.

Employment Levels Increase for Women and Decline for Men

The Welch Index for women has been steadily increasing since September, 2020. Their index rose by .2 points, from 101.1 in January to 101.3 points in February. With this steady increase, women have reversed approximately 67.6% of the initial 17.3 decline that they experienced between January and April 2020.  Their index levels continue to remain lower than what they have been over the last 3 years.

After a steady and overall increase of 1.6 points between September 2020 and January 2021, the Welch Index declined marginally for men. It fell by .1 points, to 95.2 points in February. As of this month, men have reversed 62% of the decline that they experienced when the pandemic first hit.

With the rise in the Index of women and decline in the Index for men, the difference in the employment levels of the two groups expanded in February compared to the previous month.  The difference stood at 5.8 points in January and 6.1 points in February. This difference is close to what it was in December, but higher by .3 points than what it was in January.

Underlying Factors Behind the Trends and Concluding Remarks

Our economic consulting experts find that with the rise in vaccination administration nationwide, growth picked up in February, particularly in the Leisure and Hospitality sector. However, men and women are differently situated across various job sectors; this could explain the disparity in employment changes across the two groups and therefore, overall.

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:

February 2021 Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Added 379,000 Jobs – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — JANUARY 2021 (bls.gov)