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New life (expectancy data) in FRED

FRED recently added World Development Indicators data on life expectancy at birth, which are from the World Bank. The graph above includes some of the available data. The green line shows that life expectancy has been steadily increasing in the world, but that the experience varies across countries. Consider the three large countries shown in the graph: the U.S., China, and Russia. Life expectancy in the U.S. has also been steadily increasing, but not that fast, likely because it was already high to begin with. China had a big surge in the 1960s. The Russian experience has definitely been rocky, with several decreases at several points.

How this graph was created: Search for “life expectancy,” choose the countries you’re interested in, and add them to the graph. There are several pages of listings, so you may need to add some from the graph page itself.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.


Where are the teenage employees?

When I was in high school, I had a job. As you can see from the graph above, up until 2001, over 50% of teenagers had jobs. Since then, the percent of teenagers employed—including part-time jobs—has declined and continues to decline. The most recent labor force participation rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is at just under 35%. Likely, most parents and teenagers see school as the first priority, as the rewards from finishing school have grown. Many years ago, teenagers participated in the labor force at a higher rate than adults over 55 years of age. But the percent of workers aged 55 and over has risen by almost 10% since then, at least in part because they are in better health during those later years and many retirees seek what they did as teenagers: part-time jobs.

How this graph was created: Search for “Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate” and then filter for the tag “sa,” which is “seasonally adjusted.” (NOTE: The seasonality of teenage employment is pretty extreme due to summer jobs.) And choose the ages 16-19 and over 55.

Suggested by Katrina Stierholz

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS11300012, LNS11324230

Manufacturing is growing, even when manufacturing jobs are not

The role of manufacturing in the U.S. economy is often discussed. As shown in the FRED graph above, as a year-over-year percent change, the level of manufacturing has generally grown. (One striking exception is during the recent recession.) The number of employees working in manufacturing is a different story, however. It has sometimes grown, but it has nearly always grown less than the growth in manufacturing. This suggests that growth in manufacturing does not equal growth in manufacturing jobs. What’s the explanation? A prime candidate is productivity growth. Another is that the sectoral mix has shifted toward industries with higher value added, such as computers and electronics. (See this previous FRED Blog post for more on this subject.)

How this graph was created: Search for “Industrial Production: Manufacturing” and “Manufacturing Employees” and add the series to the graph. Then convert both series to “Percent change from a year ago.” Finally, restrict the sample to a time period when both series are available.

Suggested by Katrina Stierholz

View on FRED, series used in this post: IPMAN, MANEMP

More-severe unemployment in Southern Europe

“There is always someone who has it worse” is sometimes a consolation when bad things happen to you. Here, we contrast the U.S. unemployment rate with the rates in Greece and Spain. There were certainly reasons to complain about the high unemployment rates in the U.S. during the past recession, but they pale in comparison with the experiences in Greece and Spain—even outside recessions. This disparity doesn’t come from differences in definitions of unemployment, either; this graph uses the harmonized unemployment rates from the OECD, which are designed specifically to make the rates comparable.

How this graph was created: Search for “harmonized unemployment rate,” then modify the tags in the side bar to restrict the choices. Select the countries you want and add the series to the graph (using the button at the top or bottom of the list). Finally, restrict the sample period to when data are available for Greece or Spain.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: LRHUTTTTESM156S, LRHUTTTTGRM156S, LRHUTTTTUSM156S

Japan’s lost decades (and lost population)

After decades of high growth, Japan’s economy slowed down in the early 1990s and has never really returned to old growth rates. Many people have proposed explanations for this, and one of them is shown in the graph above: an unusual drop in the employed population, which has to do with Japan’s substantial demographic changes. The working-age population has actually been declining since 1997, with no sign of reverting soon. For economic growth to occur in this environment, productivity improvements must increase faster than the workforce decreases. These data come from the Penn World Tables, which provides main economic aggregates for almost every economy of the world, while attempting to make them comparable in definition and in measurement units.

How this graph was createdSearch the Penn World table for the “Japan” tag. Select the series and add to a graph. Select the right axis for one of the series.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: EMPENGJPA148NRUG, RGDPNAJPA666NRUG

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