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A Framework That Provides Clarity

During periods of “low visibility,” confusion reigns: for every indication of one trend, there seems to be a countertrend. The key is to glean from the collective wisdom of reliable leading indicators a clear signal that the economy is headed for a turn.

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Shunted to the Sidelines


The employment/population (E/P) ratio peaked at 65% in the spring of 2000. After two 21st century recessions, it then bottomed out at 58% in mid-2011. Since then, it’s clawed back less than a quarter of that loss (not shown).

Yet, the gains have been far from uniform across demographics. Among those with at least a high school diploma, the E/P ratio – about 80% back in 2000 – now stands around 75%, with the gap between non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks/Hispanics widening a bit (purple lines).



But for those with less than a high school diploma, the E/P ratios – 57% for Whites and 61% for Blacks and Hispanics in 2000 – now stand at 48% and 61%, respectively (orange lines). So the E/P ratio is back near a record high for less-educated Blacks and Hispanics; but for less-educated non-Hispanic Whites – having dropped under 50% in 2009 – it’s stayed below that threshold and near a record low ever since. Naturally, the E/P ratio for Whites has fallen far below that for Blacks and Hispanics.

Therefore, while the percentage of Blacks and Hispanics with jobs is back up near record highs, most less-educated non-Hispanic Whites have been without a job for seven long years. It should be no surprise that there’s such angst among certain sections of the populace, even with the official jobless rate at only 5%.

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