Saturday, January 31, 2015

The AJSN vs. Other Economic Data, 2012-2014

We’ve just finished the second full year of the American Job Shortage Number, the key economic indicator which shows how many additional jobs could be quickly absorbed in the United States.  As per earlier this month, the past several months’ AJSN’s have been retroactively adjusted, to reflect the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ determination that as of May 2014 there were 7.6 million American-citizen expatriates living in other countries.  That is now the most recent data available, and I will be keeping up with them to see if and when they will be updating it.

Over the past 2½ years, the main jobs story has been what has been called either a recovery or a partial recovery from the 2008-2010 Great Recession.  I agree with the former, with the gap between employment now and as it was seven years ago belonging to the permanent jobs crisis, but whatever it is, times have got steadily better. 

So what has the AJSN worked out to since it started?  Here is a chart:

Since the AJSN is not seasonally adjusted, it varies according to annual tendencies.  If we graph it by month, we get the following, showing both the annual flow and the AJSN’s consistent year-over-year improvement.  

Although the AJSN has got lower, which means better, it has not followed the trend of other economic indicators.  Here are the monthly AJSN’s again, along with the unemployment rates, labor force participation rates, and employment to population ratios, all also unadjusted.

Graphed, they look like this, with the right-hand scale used for the three smaller numbers:

Although times have been relatively good, the number of additional jobs that could be easily filled has not decreased as much as the jobless rate:

This graph shows that while unemployment has fallen more than a third, the AJSN has not followed, and in fact has dropped only 17%, or about half that amount. 

The failure of the AJSN to follow along with official joblessness shows how much more broad-based that statistic actually is, and documents what millions of people looking for work already know – that positions are not as easy to come by as the unemployment rate suggests.  It also explains why average wages, which actually fell last month, have not kept pace either.  There are simply too many people who want to work.  It may take another recession to address this issue, but it will happen someday.    

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