Working America and Income Inequality

I just discovered a tremendous research source for students (and anybody else) who are curious about changes in income inequality, growth, health, education, etc. in America over a 90+ year period.  It’s very flexible and interactive with graphs, etc.   It’s The State of Working America, published by Economic Policy Institute. It has tremendous library of both static graphs from up-to-date data, but also some Flash-based interactive graphs such as the following on how income growth has been shared in the U.S. since 1917.  This is just a screen shot here, but you should definitely go to the site itself and play with it at http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/pages/interactive#/?start=1917&end=2007.

Screen shot of Income Growth at State of Working America Site

The best part is it is entirely Creative Commons licensed, so people can feel free to save copies of the images and re-use them without violating copyright (just remember to give credit to EPI and State of Working America).

This is a very, very useful site.  It’s on par with Hans Rosling’s Gapminder.org, and that’s very high praise indeed.

So Where Are We? Part II

Another of the major macroeconomic goals is employment. In particular, full employment of the willing and able workforce.  Of course we are still trying to emerge from the reduced employment of the Great Recession of 2007-09.  Calculated Risk provides an excellent summary with graphs of where we stand as 2011 begins:

Percent Job Losses During Recessions

Percent Job Losses During RecessionsClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms – this time from the start of the recession.

In the previous post, the graph showed the job losses aligned at the bottom.

The dotted line shows payroll employment excluding temporary Census workers.

This is by far the worst post WWII employment recession.

Part Time for Economic Reasons

Part Time WorkersFrom the BLS report:

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (some-times referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in December at 8.9 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

The number of workers only able to find part time jobs (or have had their hours cut for economic reasons) declined slightly to 8.931 million in December. This has been around 9 million since early 2009 – a very high level.

These workers are included in the alternate measure of labor underutilization (U-6) that declined to 16.7% in December. Still very grim.

Unemployed over 26 Weeks

Unemployed Over 26 Weeks This graph shows the number of workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

According to the BLS, there are 6.441 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks and still want a job. This was up from 6.328 million in November. It appeared the number of long term unemployed had peaked, however the increases over the last three months are very concerning.

Summary

This was a mixed report.

The best news was the decline in the unemployment rate to 9.4% from 9.8% in November. However this was partially because the participation rate declined to 64.3% – a new cycle low, and the lowest level since the early ’80s. Note: This is the percentage of the working age population in the labor force (here is the graph in the galleries of the participation rate).