Highlights:

  • Employment levels recovered for Hispanics and African Americans but declined for Whites.
  • Hispanic women continued to experience larger increases in employment levels between October and November than other groups.
  • The Index levels declined for White men between October and November.
  • Similar to previous months, November Index levels for African American men remained lower than the levels for other groups.
  • November Index levels for White men were higher than the Index levels of other groups.
  • For all races, current Index values continue to be well below their pre-pandemic levels.

Introduction

The Welch Index for Race is a data analytics tool used by our labor economists to measure full-time equivalent employment for Hispanics, African Americans, and Whites after adjustment for population growth. An Index value of 100.0 indicates that this adjusted full-time equivalent employment level is the same as what it was in July 2019.

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

For example, over the past 12 months, the Index has fallen 8.6 points for African Americans, from 100.1 to 91.5.  In other words, the level of full-time equivalent employment for African Americans has increased at a rate 8.6% slower than the increase in the U.S. African American adult population over the past year.  This decline in the employment level is 3 points and .7 points greater than the decline that Whites and Hispanics have experienced over the past year, respectively.

For all race groups, the bulk of the last one-year decline has occurred between January and April 2020. This is attributable to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and related lockdown measures.

Welch Consulting offers  data consulting services to help employers analyze and learn from large and complex data.

Employment Levels Recover for Hispanics and African Americans

The Welch Index for race increased for Hispanics and African Americans between October and November. For Hispanics, the Index increased by .7 points from a value of 93.1 in October to 93.8 in November. For African Americans, the Index rose by .8 points from 90.7 to 91.5 over the same period.  Both groups experienced a decline in employment levels between August and September. Otherwise, their Welch Index levels have steadily recovered since May.

For Whites, on the other hand, the Welch Index declined for the first time since May, falling .2 points, from 95.2 in October to 95 in November.

With a continued increase in the Index values in November, African Americans and Hispanics respectively recovered approximately 49% and 58% of their initial January to April decline in employment levels. As of October, Whites had recovered about 60% of their initial decline in employment levels.  With a dip in November employment levels, the percent of the initial decline that Whites reversed fell slightly, from 60% in October to 59% in November.

Decline in Employment Levels for White Men

With the exception of White men, the Index increased for all groups in November. For White men, Index levels fell by .6 points, from 94.9 in October to 94.3 in November. With this steady recovery, White men had reversed over 59% of the initial decline in employment levels by October.  However, the decline in November reversed the trend of continued recovery that White men had experienced up to October. As of November, however, White men had offset about 54% of their initial 12.7-point decline from January to April.

Similar to the previous month, employment levels increased the most for Hispanic women in November. However, this rise was lower than the increase that Hispanic women experienced in October. In October, the Welch Index for Hispanic women rose by 3.4 points. It rose by 1.6 points, from 91.1 in October to 92.7, in November. By November, Hispanic women had reversed over 60% of their initial decline of 13.4 points from January to April.

The Index for African American women has increased steadily since May, and by 1.5 points between October and November. This increase was .6 points lower than what they experienced in October.  By November, African American women had reversed over 55% of their initial January to April decline of 10.5 points.

Hispanic and African American men experienced a modest rise of .1 points and .2 points over the last month, reversing over 44% and 55% of their initial decline in employment levels, respectively.

For White women, the Index increased by .4 points, with White women managing to offset over 64% of their initial 10.1-point decline of January to April. As of November, their Index value was 95.9, the highest November value of any group.

Underlying Factors Behind Employment Index Trends and Concluding Remarks

Our economic consulting experts found that temporary workers, as well as certain sectors such as Retail, experienced more significant job losses than other industries. On the other hand, employment increased in sectors such as Warehouse and Transportation, Health Care, and Professional Services.  Racial differences in employment patterns reflect the fact that Hispanics, Whites, and African Americans are differently situated across these different jobs.

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 for race is based on individuals who are 20 years old and over. Seasonal effects for the share of workers employed in part-time jobs are removed in a regression framework using monthly indicator variables.

SOURCES:
U.S. labor market losing steam as COVID-19 pandemic rages | Reuters