Want a quick rundown? None. In fact, Boomers are the only age group who have gained jobs since the Great Recession – and they continued to gain jobs throughout the recession. I know, I was shocked as well.
Luckily for you, I ran the numbers, tossed them into a chart, and cross referenced them with the population of various age groups in 2008 and 2012. Let’s play ball!
Employment by Age Group
One thing that the jobs report does give to us is employment by population. Since many job market apologists argue that the employment population declines are “Baby Boomers retiring” or “people retiring early”, it’s good to take a look by age bracket and see if there is anything to that theory. If there is? President Obama could probably run a few commercials on it. If there isn’t? Well, then things are worse than they seem, and the employment situation is a much bigger issue than we have been making it out to be. (All numbers seasonally adjusted; sources linked down the page).
The bottom line, employment in the 16-19 bracket, well… we had a good idea that we’d see that declining. However, the line I want you to concentrate on is the light blue one – the line corresponding with 55+ employment. Shockingly, the growth in 55+ employment never stopped or reversed! Look at every single other age bracket – you can see that employment peaked in the 2007 and 2008 years, and has declined since. That’s right – the 55+ age bracket gained jobs throughout the recession, and has gained jobs since then. That is – far from explaining the precipitous decline in the employment population ratio, the Baby Boomer crowd is actually making the jobs situation look better.
It’s hard to stress with words just how important this point is: the 8.1% unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole ratio, since many of the lost jobs were among people who are less that 55 years old (read: not Baby Boomers). Let me express the decline in cold, hard numbers instead:
|Jobs Drop from 07/08 Max (1000s of Jobs)||1825||1057||1138||4138||1848||-3457|
|Percentage Drop from 07/08 peak||29.58%||7.46%||3.60%||11.92%||5.32%||-12.74%|
So, the 55+ bracket has gained 3.5 million jobs while the remaining brackets have lost 10 million jobs. (Overall peak was 138,023,000 employed in January 2008 vs 133,300,000 today. They don’t match since peaks were hit in different months for different age groups, and yes, some people have shifted age groups. More on that in the next section.).
The Employment Population Ratio
Unfortunately for us, the employment-population ratio isn’t broken out for all of the age brackets we care about. That means the best we’ll be able to do on demographic changes is Census Bureau Projections on population by age group in 2008 and 2012. Here’s a graph with those numbers – it’s important to note that while Boomers are increasing the relative size of older brackets, brackets of lower ages aren’t all declining. To reproduce my chart, follow this link to the CDC Census Projection creator. Select ‘age groups’ and ‘year’, and 2008 and 2012.
All data from St. Louis Fed FRED, unless noted. Employment Population:
Worse Than You Thought
An 8.1% unemployment rate? Sounds not-so-bad, right? Right. However, the composition of people dropping out of the labor market, unfortunately, is much lower on the age scale than any of the theorists could have predicted. While things have been fine for the 55+ age bracket, unfortunately the younger part of the scale has suffered major setbacks since 2007 and 2008.
So no, it wasn’t an encouraging job report. Here’s some free advice for the President: don’t try to run on the composition of the labor force.
Is this data as shocking to you as it was to me? Did you know that Baby Boomers have been doing better over the last 4 years? Other than the teenage cohort, did you know how the other brackets were suffering? Anything interesting you see in the data that I missed?