In addition, an editorial recently dropped that the administration is mulling whether or not this unemployment crisis is “structural.” Talking with some random people recently, I got the sense that lots of people think that the unemployment crisis is primarily a structural problem, not suitable for further monetary or fiscal policy. So I’m going to spend some time in the future readdressing these concerns every chance I get; sorry if it becomes repetitive.
And I’ll do that here with two quick thing that I noticed checking out the unemployment numbers today.
There was a 2009 meme about how the recession was really a “mancession”, where male-dominated fields like construction and finance had a larger hit and unemployment was going to hurt men much more than women. This story had a lot of legs in 2009 when unemployed rose much more rapidly among men than women.
I argued at the time that this was a false dichotomy, and that the evolving nature of families securing homes and benefits leads to “two-income traps” where either parent being unemployed in a family put the family at risk. Men being more vulnerable than women ignores how vulnerable households themselves have become. But this story does have a bit of a “structural unemployment” part to it, where men are going to be harder to employ post-recovery period.
Here’s what those two look like now:
And plotting the difference between the two:
As you can see, male unemployment has stayed the same or trended slightly down (down 0.4% over the 12 month period) and female unemployment continues to trend up (up 0.4% over the past 12 month period). So I think we are seeing a move towards a greater gender parity in unemployment. To whatever extent the recession was hitting men more than women, that is disappearing rapidly right now.
It just jumped up 0.4%, and is back to where it roughly was months ago (were census workers primarily college educated?). 5% unemployment seems low, but remember it was 2-3% for most of the past 10 years. If the economy is going to rapidly absorb those with higher education it isn’t currently happening, and students graduating from college with the freshest skills aren’t finding work.