More on Jobs

This post I did something completely different.  I just took 20 years of BLS data and played with it.  I created a bunch of charts off of it that looks at the nature of our labor economy in 1990 and now.  Prepare to either be dazzled by charts or bored to tears with them.  You have been warned…

The pie chart idea was simple: look at which sector(s) had the most jobs.  It’s obvious that it’s the service sector.  So for all the ballyhooing over manufacturing, it’s misplaced.  Here’s a time series view:

The time series chart should’ve made my point clearer.  Now let’s look at Goods Producing jobs:

Jobs in manufacturing are in a slow and steady decline.  Jobs in construction have tracked the economic cycle and indeed, you could see those jobs increasing through the ’00-01 recession.  Be that as it may, I tend to dismiss surveys about manufacturing.  You’ll see why when we look at the service sector.  But the next one I have pertains to construction.

If you’re a specialty contractor (i.e. plumbing, electrician, etc.) there has been more jobs. But the decline has been steeper than the other construction job categories since real estate has started contracting.  As for manufacturing…

Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin’ Away” comes to mind.  These two have been grinding lower and lower, and I see very little on the horizon that would make me change my mind and get constructive on this sector of the economy.  Meanwhile, in the services sector…

It’s not even close.  Trade, transportation, and utilities has more jobs than the entire Goods producing sector.  The line representing Education and Healthcare just keeps moving upward.  Relentlessly.  In an eerily methodical sort of way.

So what do we make of this view of jobs data?  First, it illustrates just how much our economy relies on service jobs – not manufacturing.  Second, the relentless march of the healthcare sector is still onward and upward.  As the nation’s population ages, we will only see more jobs in this area, not less. Lastly, some sectors have adjusted back to pre-bubble levels of employment, others haven’t.  It will be interesting to see where the bottom is for some of those sectors as we move forward.


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Filed under government, macro, Way Forward

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