The Welch Consulting Employment Index rose 0.7 points in July, from 92.8 to 93.5. This continued rise in the Index has now reversed over 40% of the sharp decline the Index experienced in April. The current level of 93.5 is still well below the record high of 103.4 that the Index 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 now fallen 9.0 points, from 102.5 to 93.5. 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, with full-time equivalent employment increasing at a rate 9.0% slower than the increase in the U.S. adult population over the past year (after making adjustments for the aging of the population).

Looking back at the most recent 6 months, the Index fell from 103.4 in January to 93.5 currently. The drop in employment is consistent with the economic downturn and significant job losses that have occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.  All of the decline in the past year has occurred since January, with the lowest rate of employment occurring in April 2020. The average rate of change over the past three years is now a decrease of about 2.4 points per year.

In June the Index for men increased more than the Index for women, reversing a recent trend. The Index for women rose 0.4 points, from 96.0 to 96.4. The Index for men rose 0.7 points from 90.4 to 91.1. The Index for women has recovered about 43% of its April decline, while the Index for men has recovered about 38% of its decline. Our economic consulting experts find these increases to be consistent with a continued business recovery across many sectors of the economy. However, even with the slight gains shown this month and last, employment rates are still well below pre-COVID-19 levels. Over the past three years, the Index for women is down 7.0 percentage points while the Index for men is down 7.3 points; the bulk of this loss is due to the pandemic.

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.