Highlights:

  • Employment levels declines for Whites overall and by gender.
  • For both Hispanics and African American, employment levels recover by gender and overall.
  • For all races, current Index values continued to be below their pre-pandemic levels.

Welch Index by Race June 2021

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 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 increased 8.2 points for African Americans from 86.1 to 94.3.  In other words, the level of full-time equivalent employment for African Americans has increased at a rate 8.2% faster than the increase in the U.S. African American adult population over the past year.  For Whites the Index increased by 3.6 points and 7.6 points for Hispanics over the same period.

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.

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Employment Levels Recover for African Americans and Hispanics

The Welch Index for Whites declined by .2 points from 95.6 in May to 95.4 in June. This decline entirely offsets the increase that their Index experienced in March. The Index for Whites is now back to its January 2021 value and is lower than any of its pre-pandemic values from the last several years.

The Index for African Americans declined by .6 points between January and February of this year but has been increasing ever since.  The recovery in June was greater compared to those in previous months this year. It increased by .9 points from a value of 93.4 in May to 94.3 in June. The African American Index is now 5.4 points lower than the pre-pandemic value of 99.7 in January 2020. With this ongoing recovery, they have recovered close to 66% of the January to April decline of last year.

Welch Index by Race June 2021

Similar to African Americans, the Index for Hispanics has also been generally on the rise since the start of the year. The Index improved by .4 months compared to the previous month and by 2 points compared to January. However, the June Index value of 95.3 is still 6.7 points below the January 2020 value.

Employment Levels Decline for Whites and Increase for All Other Race-Gender Groups

The Index for White men declined in June by .2 points from a value of 94.8 in May to 94.6 in June. Their Index is now lower by .2 points compared to its January 2021 value and by 5.4 points compared to its January 2020 value.

Employment levels for White women have followed a generally fluctuating pattern. For example, their Index increased by .7 points in March relative to the previous month, followed by a decline in April, recovery in May and a decline once again in June. In June, their Index value fell by .4 points to 96.3 from 96.7 in May.

Index levels for African American women have been steadily improving since December of last year. In June, their Index rose marginally by .1-points relative to May.  With an Index value of 93.7, they have now recovered close to 57% of the January-April 2020 decline of 16.3 points.  The Index for African American men on the other hand increased by 1.8 points. With this steady and significant improvement, African American men have now recovered close to 77% of their January-April decline of last year.

Welch Index by race and gender June 2021

Hispanic employment levels for both men and women have been consistently improving since February. The Index for Hispanic women increased by .6 points and that of Hispanic men increased by .3 points over the previous month. Despite these improvements, the Index for these two groups would have to still rise by 6.3 points and 7.3 points to return to their pre-pandemic January levels of last year.

Underlying Factors Behind Employment Trends and Concluding Remarks

Our economic consulting experts find improvements in employment levels owing to increased vaccinations and reopening of businesses. These improvements differ across racial lines for several reasons including differences in the demographic composition of occupations. Particular sectors with significant improvements this month include Leisure and hospitality, public and private education, professional and business services and retail trade.

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:
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — JUNE 2021 (bls.gov)