US: Gallup US Payroll to Population

Wed Jul 01 07:30:00 CDT 2015

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level 45.5% 44.5%

Full-time employment for an employer continued to increase through the first month of summer, after a slow start in 2015. It is now at its highest measurement since 2012. Underemployment remained at the lowest rate Gallup has measured in the five-year history of the trend, after reaching this level in May. One component of that measure -- unemployment -- is now as low as Gallup has measured it with the exception of one lower reading in December 2014.

The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P) was 45.5 percent in June. This is up one full percentage point from the previous month, and 0.5 points higher than the rate measured in June 2014. This development represents the strongest month-to-month change for P2P since May 2014, and continues the rise seen last month. P2P is now at the highest it has been since October 2012, which in turn was the highest point in Gallup's five-year trend on this measure. This increase in the summer months is in line with an expected seasonal rise in full-time employment.

The percentage of U.S. adults participating in the workforce in June was 67.1 percent. This is up from May, and is the highest rate since September 2014 by .0.1 points. Since May 2010, the workforce participation rate has remained in a range encompassing a low of 65.8 percent and a high of 68.5 percent, although in the past two years it has most often remained below 67.0 percent.

Gallup's unadjusted U.S. unemployment rate is at 6.0 percent in June, down slightly from May (6.1 percent), and except for one reading of 5.8 percent in December 2014, is the lowest in Gallup's five-year trend. Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate represents the percentage of adults in the workforce who did not have any paid work in the past seven days, for an employer or themselves, and who were actively looking for and available to work.

Gallup's measure of underemployment in June is 14.7 percent, unchanged from May, and both months' readings represent the lowest level recorded since Gallup began tracking it daily in 2010. Gallup's U.S. underemployment rate combines the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed (6.0 percent) and those who are working part time but desire full-time work (8.7 percent). The percentage of the workforce in this latter category has varied between 8.4 percent and 10.1 percent since January 2010.

Gallup tracks daily the employment status of the U.S. population and the workforce using a set of questions designed to measure U.S. employment accurately, in accordance with International Conference of Labour Statisticians standards. Based on an individual's responses to the question series (some of which are asked of only a subset of respondents), Gallup classifies respondents into one of six employment categories: employed full time for an employer; employed full time for self; employed part time, but do not want to work full time; employed part time, but want to work full time; unemployed; and out of the workforce.

Payroll to Population is a measure of those who are employed by an employer for at least 30 hours per week, and is calculated as a percentage of the total population.

Underemployed respondents are employed part time, but want to work full time, or are unemployed. Unemployed respondents are those within the underemployed group who are not employed, even for one hour a week, but are available and looking for work. Unemployment and underemployment are calculated as a percentage of the workforce.

Because results are not seasonally adjusted and there are methodological differences in data collection, they are not directly comparable to BLS numbers. However, the two measures are correlated, and Gallup's employment metrics follow the general BLS trend. Gallup reports P2P and underemployment at the state level on a semiannual basis.

Gallup unemployment data -- collected daily since 2010 -- are correlated with unemployment rates reported by the BLS. Gallup's unique Payroll to Population employment measure gives a clear picture of the employment situation for the entire U.S. population, without the complexity of the frequently changing size of the workforce. When U.S. workforce size decreases, unemployment rates can actually improve, even though fewer people are working. In contrast, Payroll to Population declines when fewer people are working full time, and rises when more people find full-time work

Unlike unemployment rates, the P2P percentage provides information about economic energy. For example, increasing retirement rates, such as will happen as those in the U.S. baby boomer generation move through their 60s into their 70s, will result in a lower overall P2P value unless there is an unusually high influx of immigrants. This means fewer people are sustaining the economy or contributing to the tax base. This decline in employment, which goes undetected in traditional employment measures, could have significant consequences. Alternatively, an increase in P2P rates can lead to sustained economic growth.

Additionally, the U.S. government's BLS calculations involve seasonal and other adjustments each month. While valuable, these can mask underlying trends. Traditional unemployment metrics count Americans who are working at least one hour per week as employed. In contrast, Payroll to Population will increase or decrease only if there is a change in the number of Americans working at full-time jobs.