Strength of the Economy

Big Red Car here, snowing in the Panhandle and going to be 30F in the ATX tonight? Yes. Snow tonight? Nah.

So, I like to take a look at information below the surface to prove or disprove what the surface currents seem to indicate. One of my favorites is to plumb the depth of the job market and its inverse, unemployment.

Anybody with a brain knows that U-3 — the measure of unemployment that the media uses — is not very accurate for a number of structural reasons. While, folks also know that BLS U-6/7 is a better snapshot.

One other area I like to look at is full time v part time employment.

Here is an excellent graph (thanks Advisor Perspectives and which tells a great story.


A couple of words of caution.

 1. This graph is for those 16 and older.

 2. It defines full time employment as being 35 hours per week or more.

 3. It defines part time employment as being 35 hours per week or less.

So what, Big Red Car?

Dear reader, don’t be short with me. Here’s what we learn:

 1. When the recession of 2008-9 hit, employers began to increase part time employment and decrease full time employment. Huge structural change. Obamacare an impact? Yes.

 2. As the recovery began, as pathetic as it was, the number of part time jobs began to decline and the number of full time jobs began to increase.

 3. Some time around early 2015, the trend lines crossed and continued in their same direction.

 4. We are still not where we once were back in 2000.

When we talk about “job creation” it is important to take a look to see if we are talking about full time jobs or part time jobs. We are actually talking about a combination of full time and part time jobs.

As you can see, almost a decade after the recession, we are still not where we were as it relates to full time jobs.

This indicates a continuing need in the US to keep an eye on job creation. We are not out of the woods just yet.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Jobs — keep an eye on them.