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The continued rise of humans

The world’s population continues to increase: The GeoFRED map above shows 2014’s percent change in population growth for all nations, and the majority of nations have growth over 1%. The darker shades indicate higher growth, and Africa and the Middle East have the majority of significantly high population increases. In fact, some central African countries are growing by more than 3%. The highest population growth in 2014, 8.1%, was in Oman. Most of the population growth is occurring in less-developed countries, which may be caused by improved health care, which decreases the infant mortality rate. The fertility rate, however, has stayed high, generating an even-larger increase in population. The map below from 2004 shows that there has been minimal change in growth rates over the past decade. Check back with GeoFRED in the future to see things develop.

How this map was created: : The original post referenced interactive maps from our now discontinued GeoFRED site. The revised post provides replacement maps from FRED’s new mapping tool. To create FRED maps, go to the data series page in question and look for the green “VIEW MAP” button at the top right of the graph. See this post for instructions to edit a FRED map. Only series with a green map button can be mapped.

Suggested by Joshua Berry.

Disability within the labor force participation rate

Recent fluctuations in the labor force participation rate have received national attention. And there’s an obvious question here, with ramifications for how we view that number: Why would a working-age person not be in the labor force?

In June 2008, the Current Population Survey added a question about disability status. It turns out that a non-trivial number, about 1 in 5, report a disability that limits their capacity to work. The graph above shows that the number of persons out of the labor force who have a disability has been steadily rising and that there are more women than men in this group. The average increase has been about 1.9% year-over-year, with a slightly higher rate for men than women: 2% vs. 1.8%. These rates are significantly faster than population growth or the growth in the labor force. In other words, we’re seeing a piece of the decline in the overall labor force participation rate (i.e., the fraction of the working-age population who work or are actively trying to find work).

Although many physically demanding jobs have historically been male-dominated, more women report being out of the labor force because of a physical disability. Part of the reason is that there are more women who do not participate in the labor force. The disability questions also identify anyone in the household with a disability, so we may be seeing women staying out of the labor force to help care for a disabled member of the household.

The bottom graph shows the fractions of those out of the labor force: About 1 in 4 working-age men who are not in the labor force have a disability, whereas only 1 in 6 women do. The bottom graph also shows that the increasing trend (seen in the graph above) is right in line with the overall trend in non-participation. The fraction of workers out of the labor force because of disability is approximately constant, meaning that non-participants without a disability are rising at the same rate as those with a disability.

How these graphs were created: For the top graph, simply search for “not in labor force disability 16 64 men” and then the same series for women. For the bottom graph, use the same series (as the “a” series) and add the “no disability” versions (as the “b” series) with the “Add Data Series” / “Transform Data Series” options. Then apply the formula a/(a+b).

Suggested by David Wiczer.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNU05076940, LNU05076945, LNU05076955, LNU05076960

Seeking, missing, finding, and filling jobs

Bloomberg News recently suggested firms may be struggling to find qualified employees. The FRED graph above does show that, for the past year, the number of job openings in the U.S. has generally been higher than the number of hires. So, yes, some positions aren’t being filled. Also, the level of unemployment has been steadily decreasing since 2010, even though the BLS reports that the unemployment rate hardly fell from August to April of this year.

Civilian unemployment rate = (Unemployment level / Civilian labor force) * 100

As the equation shows, for the unemployment rate to hold steady and, at the same time, for the unemployment level to decrease, the labor force must also decrease. So, while fewer “unemployed” people might be taken at face value to mean more people are finding jobs, keep in mind that some people may have simply stopped looking for a job and left the labor force. And firms may not be finding their ideal applicants among the unemployed.

On the other hand, the unemployed may not be looking for the right jobs. For more insight into the current employment situation, visit FRASER (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research) for the Employment Situation—May 2016. This and previous reports from the BLS tally which industries have added or cut jobs in that particular period—potentially useful information for those who want to know which industries are potentially looking to hire. In FRASER, you can explore plenty of interesting publications on employment throughout history. Happy hunting!

How this graph was created: Search for “unemployment level” and select the seasonally adjusted series and click “Add to Graph.” Adjust the timeline to start at January 2007. Add the next series by searching for “hires” and choosing the total nonfarm seasonally adjusted monthly series with level in thousands for units. Add the last series by searching for “job openings” and again choosing the total nonfarm series.

Suggested by Emily Furlow.

View on FRED, series used in this post: JTSHIL, JTSJOL, UNEMPLOY

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