Friday, June 07, 2013

Percent of the Population That Works

I thought I would have to actually work at this chart, meaning pull the population figures from the Census Bureau, then getting the "total people employed" figures and then divide the two.  However, it seems the folks in charge of the FRED database have actually been bucking the government employee trend by (GASP!) working!  The data series is already pre-calculated!

Naturally my intent was to highlight the significant drop in the percent of the population that is working and show that a smaller and smaller minority of people are supporting the rest of us, however something did jump out at me and that was just how few people were actually working back in the early 60's.  only 37% of the population supported the remaining 63%.

Of course this is somewhat misleading as it does not consider stay-at-home mothers (or fathers) "working" and it wasn't until women left the house for the labor market did this ratio increase.  What is interesting, however, is how we had

lower unemployment
higher-technology adjusted standards of living
higher economic growth
and sounded government finances

than we do today with 10% LESS of the population working.

I also find it interesting that with more people working how government spending as a percent of GDP went up.  Should this not have been the reverse?  As more people labored, then private sector GDP would have gone up, shrinking government's spending as a percentage...unless...hmmmmm......there is one thing that would explain all  of the above.

But I'll let you junior, deputy, aspiring, official or otherwise economists out there figure that out.


Fred Z said...

The last 5 years of your chart are as utterly reliable as the last 5 years of government statistics on which the chart is based.

Anonymous said...

You need a statistician, not an economist.

C.J. Caswell said...

Government is hiring a lot more people, particularly at the local and state levels (using federal block grant money, of course).

That chart is exactly what I would have expected to see. Prior to the 70's, men worked and held the role of economic provider for the entire family in most cases; the family was an institution and utilized specialization. Contrary to much economic dogma, more people working isn't synonymous with growth. Labor has a demand curve, and it rises and falls like any other; more labor in times when demand for labor isn't rising as fast causes wages to drop. Technology means that this is now perpetually the case.

The consequences of integrating millions of women into the workforce has been stagnant wages and the creation of too much pointless make-work in customer service occupations that people don't really need, consumption for the sake of consumption. I don't know if liberals realize that there are disadvantages to breaking up the family structure in favor of extreme egalitarian individualism, but "creating jobs" isn't going to make it work without massively increasing the amount that people invest - precisely what they have no incentive to do when the government provides aid and job security. All it's doing is creating a dependent class.

MarkyMark said...

WHen the labor force was doubled overnight with the entry of women therein, it halved the price of labor. Also, the addition of half the population paying taxes gave the gov't more money to spend; what do YOU think a gov't will do with more tax money? Spend, spend, spend, Baby!

Thidwick said...

A lot of the job growth is a myth because it's in the form of government jobs. We're growing the public sector and declaring it as economic growth.

abhishekjog789 said...

Well I don't think that problem is with the labour force or entry of women.The actual problem is with the inefficient or unskilled labour force
without having adequate technical of
professional skills.

abhishekjog789 said...

The real problem is not with the labour force or entry of women.
The actual problem is with the inefficient or unskilled labour force without adequate technical or professional talent required by the industry.

Anonymous said...

Adding a couple billion Chinese and Indians into the labor pool as communism and isolationist socialism receded certainly hasn't helped the value of labor, nor has competition from relatively-newly rebuilt postwar industries in Germany and Japan.. The conditions that pertained during the "golden age" of US labor and industry were a unique aberration that can't be replicated short of massive preemptive nuclear strikes that kill billions, since tariffs would not make world demand for US production go up.

Aeoli Pera said...

Not only is the government hiring more people, but they are beginning to be better-paid as well.

See Will Cain's interview with John Derbyshire: Get a Government Job.

For this concise, informative answer I award myself an award.