Your Handy Guide to Understanding America's Jobs Situation

Do you want to be able to talk knowledgeably at fancy dinner parties with the ruling class about employment in America? Sure you do! So here are just a few simple graphs from our pals at the St. Louis Fed with a longer view — going back to either 2000 or to the early 90s, depending on data available — that explaining the trending in employment, hiring, unemployment and workforce participation in America. Above: what they call the “U6” number. That’s the combined percentage of unemployed and underemployed, essentially.

Now let’s look at job openings, at actual hires and at layoffs since the year 2000, in that order. These are all fairly good trends at the moment!

And what’s the actual hard “unemployment rate” among civilians, as a percentage?

And the actual number of new people just recently seeking unemployment assistance.

Finally, this is the “civilian labor force participation rate.” That expresses the percentage of employed and unemployed people in the group of people who could be employed in the country — so that excludes students, the retired, the young, the imprisoned, etc.

There! Now you’re just as informed as a plutocrat!