(Belated) CPS Microdata Day, June 2018

Ernie Tedeschi
Jul 20, 2018 · 3 min read

Saudações de Portugal! Apologies for the delay this month on account of my vacation. On the plus side, I have a new respect for my little 11" MacBook Air for being able to handle these giant datasets (so long as I run absolutely nothing else).

1. Long-term unemployment rose in June primarily due to a fall in people leaving long-term unemployment.

Check out the deeper analysis here if you missed it this morning.

2. Prime-age slack continues to fall but non-unemployment margins are still well above pre-2008 and pre-2001 levels.

This chart shows the level, as a percent of the population, of margins of prime-age (25–54 year old) labor market slack. As you can see, unemployment has gotten back down below its 2007 lows, though not its 2000 lows yet. But the other margins of slack for prime-age workers have some room to go yet.

The next two charts show the cumulative change in prime-age slack from the start of the 2007 and 2001 recessions, respectively, to today. I’ve excluded unemployment to keep the scale compressed and so we get a sense of how non-unemployment slack margins are behaving.

As you can see, prime-age slack is still about 1.7 percentage points of the population above its December 2007 level. The largest margin is involuntary part-time workers (and here I count any part-time worker who says they want full-time hours, regardless of whether it’s for “economic” reasons or not), followed by disability and school enrollment.

Since 2001, prime-age slack is still elevated by 3 percentage points, mostly due again to the involuntary part-time and disabled workers, both of which are falling but gradually.

3. Median wage growth is still in the mid-3s.

Median wage growth hasn’t exploded despite wide-spread anecdotes of labor shortages in some sectors.

In fact, when you look at a 12M moving average instead, median wage appears to have settled a bit since 2016, though a weighted version of the metric shows a bit more firmness.

4. Median wage growth in transportation is firming but not explosive; IT may be accelerating a bit.

5. Wage rigidity may have plateaued, though it is still somewhat elevated from its late-2016 trough and nowhere near pre-2008 and pre-2001 levels.

This continues to be a baffling result from the data: why, in a period of labor market improvement, would wage rigidity be rising?

6. Rigidity appears to be falling in the construction industry but rising in transportation.


Ernie Tedeschi on labor economics, public finance, data…

Ernie Tedeschi

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Economist & budget wonk. Fmr @USTreasury economist. Data viz enthusiast. Everything here is my own opinion, and RTs/favorites are not endorsements.


Ernie Tedeschi on labor economics, public finance, data visualization, miscellanea

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