Why should you care what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has to say?
Because BLS provides data and statistical support to the Department of Labor, whose mission is to “foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States”—and that’s YOU.
Let’s start with the Monthly Labor Review (MLR) from June 2023.
June’s MLR Recap:
Overall unemployment went down in 2022
In 2022, the US unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent across men, women, and various race and ethnicity groups, reaching pre-pandemic levels. Total employment increased, and unemployment rates were lower for people 25 to 54, along with those 55 and older. Management, professional, and related occupations experienced the greatest employment growth, although the number of nonagricultural self-employed workers remained stable. At the same time, real earnings declined because median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers did not keep pace with inflation. And challenges remain for individuals with disabilities and those with lower levels of education. But it’s mostly good news.
Many employment sectors have recovered
In a significant post-COVID recovery, nonfarm employment increased by 4.8 million this past year, the second-largest gain in history. However, average monthly job gains were smaller than in 2021. Private education, health services, and goods-producing industries added more jobs in 2022, with continued expansion in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, information, and utilities. However, leisure and hospitality, government, mining and logging, retail trade, and other services remained below their pre-pandemic employment levels. And while average hourly earnings increased, inflation offset some of the gains for real wages. You can wonk out here.
Firms are moving state to state
As companies migrate across regions and states, BLS tracks what the businesses are, where they’re coming from, and where they’re going. Economic cycles and events, especially COVID-19, have led to increasing business migration over the years, with the highest levels in the professional, scientific, and technical services sectors. Many organizations are leaving the Northeast and Midwest in favor of the South, with New York suffering the highest level of negative net migration in 2021, and Florida and North Carolina gaining the most companies. Knowing these trends can give you valuable insight into the direction of the labor market and economy in general. Dig into the details.
Other quick takes
BLS has improved the accuracy of its Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for US residential telecommunications services, adjusting to ensure constant quality in price quotes in this rapidly changing sector. And the bureau has confirmed the statistical consistency of its gasoline price measures by considering the impact of gas station markups. As you’ve no doubt heard, gas prices play a major role in inflation.
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