How the Economy Still Stinks for the Unemployed, in One Chart

Parts of the job market are getting better, but this graphic from the Atlanta Fed shows how bad the situation still is for some.

Miriam Abrego, 55, picks up fliers advertising jobs at the Foothill Employment and Training July 6, 2012 in Pasadena, California.
National Journal
Catherine Hollander
See more stories about...
Catherine Hollander
Feb. 4, 2014, midnight

Char­lotte may have spun words in­to her web, but some eco­nom­ists say data points can be just as ex­press­ive.

Na­tion­al Journ­al re­por­ted last winter on the At­lanta Fed­er­al Re­serve Bank’s new “spider chart” visu­al­iz­ing the labor mar­ket’s pro­gress. With the Janu­ary jobs re­port just a few days away, let’s check back in and see how things are mov­ing.

The takeaway: The labor util­iz­a­tion in­dic­at­ors — which de­scribe the situ­ation for those who are un­em­ployed — still stink and are fur­ther from pre­crisis levels than oth­er parts of the job mar­ket right now.

A quick primer: The “spider chart” looks com­plic­ated at first glance. But, really, it’s just a way of com­par­ing sev­er­al job-mar­ket in­dic­at­ors at once, and see­ing how their pro­gress stacks up. In this in­stance, the At­lanta Fed is look­ing at 13 dif­fer­ent meas­ures of job-mar­ket health.

The chart has two rings: One in the middle, which rep­res­ents the re­ces­sion-era low point for each in­dic­at­or, and one on the out­side, which rep­res­ents the in­dic­at­or’s pre­crisis level. You can see how close each in­dic­at­or is to get­ting back to where it was be­fore the fin­an­cial crisis by look­ing at its pro­gress along the spoke.

It prob­ably won’t sur­prise you that the dark blue line rep­res­ent­ing the latest data is farthest from the out­er ring, on the whole, for the part of the chart that in­cludes the meas­ure­ments of un­em­ploy­ment, a sep­ar­ate meas­ure of people who aren’t work­ing but want to be, and of people who have to work part time for eco­nom­ic reas­ons, not per­son­al pref­er­ence. For these in­di­vidu­als, the re­cov­ery is mov­ing at a snail’s pace, even as em­ploy­ers are post­ing more job open­ings (seen on the op­pos­ite side of the chart).

When the Bur­eau of Labor Stat­ist­ics re­leases its latest em­ploy­ment fig­ures on Fri­day morn­ing, re­port­ers and politi­cians are likely to seize on two num­bers: The un­em­ploy­ment rate and payroll growth. But these can be tricky fig­ures to de­cipher, re­flect­ing people de­part­ing the labor mar­ket rather than get­ting jobs, or show­ing weak­ness due to bad weath­er, re­spect­ively. Look­ing at a range of labor-mar­ket in­dic­at­ors, over time, is a good way to avoid fall­ing in­to the trap of fo­cus­ing too much on a single data point. But it’s also im­port­ant to re­mem­ber that the At­lanta Fed’s chart doesn’t tell the whole story, either. Just a broad­er piece of it.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
1 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
20 hours ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×