Highlights:

  • Job growth remained unchanged between May and June.
  • The Index levels recovered for men and declined for women.
  • Index levels-overall and by gender- remain lower than their pre pandemic levels.


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

For example, over the past 12 months the Index has improved 5.7 points, from 93.0 points to 98.7. This means that full-time equivalent employment level increased at a rate 5.7% faster than the increase in the U.S. adult population over the past year (after making adjustments for the aging of the population).

The overall Index value decline is the same as what it was in May, 3 points or at an average rate of 1 point per year. Looking by gender, we find that the Index for men is down 3.5 points while the Index for women is down 2 points over the past three years.  This average rate of decline over 3 years for women is worse than what it was as of May.

Employment Levels Remain Unchanged in June

The Welch Index has not seen a decline since the start of this year. It remained unchanged between January and February, increased in March and April relative to the previous month and has been stable at 98.7 points since May.

Last year this time, June experienced some recovery following the onset of the pandemic and a dramatic decline of 15.4 points between January to April, 2020. In June, 2020 the Index recovered to 93.0 points. The percent of this 15.4-point decline that has been recovered till date is close to 70%. In absolute terms, an increase of 4.6 points is required to return to the pre-pandemic January levels.

Employment Levels Increase More for Women than for Men

In May, the Welch Index increased for both genders and more so for women. June has seen a reversal of this trend. For men the Index value increased by .2 points from 95.7 points in May to 95.9 points in June. For women, the Index declined by .1 point from 102.4 points in May to 102.3 points in June.

The difference in the Index values between that of women and men has declined from 6.7 points in May to 6.4 points in June.

Looking at the levels when the pandemic began, we find that employment levels for men women had respectively declined by 9.8 points and 11 points between January and June of 2020. Women have now recovered close to 58% while men have recovered close to 54% of this decline.

Underlying Factors Behind the Trends and Concluding Remarks

Our economic consulting experts find that with vaccinations and business reopening, the employment levels have been generally improving. Education, Manufacturing and Hospitality industries have seen an uptick in employment levels.  Given that men and women are differently situated across different sectors, the patterns have been slightly different by gender.

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.

Sources:
June 2021 jobs report: U.S. adds 850,000 jobs, better than expected (cnbc.com)