One interesting fact in today’s jobs report (see Diving Into the Payroll Report: Establishment +295K Jobs; Household +96K Employment, Labor Force -178K) was a drop in teenage unemployment of 1.7 percentage points while overall the unemployment rate fell by only 0.2 percentage points.

The only reason the overall rate fell was a plunge in labor force of 178,000. Household survey employment only rose by 96,000 vs. the establishment survey gain of an alleged +295,000.

The decline in teenage unemployment got me wondering: Where are the jobs, and what age groups got them? Here are a few seasonally adjusted charts from the St. Louis Fed.

Employment 16-19 Month Over Month

Employment 20-24 Month Over Month

Employment 25-54 Month Over Month

Employment 55+ Month Over Month

Age Categories

25-54 is a rather broad category. So is 55+. I would have liked to see finer breakdowns.

Additional data is available on the BLS data site directly, but even there, not all of the seasonally adjusted numbers I wanted were available. However, all of the age groups I wanted to see on a “not seasonally adjusted” basis were available.

Let’s take a look at the two sets of tables I created from BLS data.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Employment Growth Year-Over-Year

Age Group Employment Growth Y/Y NSA Population Growth Y/Y Employment Relative to Population Growth
16-19 456,000 -34,000 490,000
20-24 409,000 -26,000 435,000
25-34 866,000 617,000 249,000
35-44 69,000 108,000 -39,000
45-54 464,000 -207,000 671,000
55-59 175,000 279,000 -104,000
60-64 296,000 543,000 -247,000
65+ 228,000 1,534,000 -1,306,000

Note the huge outsized job gains in age groups 16-19 and 20-24. On an age-adjusted basis, the job gains are even greater.

Also the demographic shift to age group 25-34 puts the 866,000 job gain in that group in proper perspective. Relative to population growth, age group 35-44 actually lost jobs.

Retirement explains age groups 60-64 and 65+. Retirement (and forced retirement), along with rising disability fraud, also explains the drop in participation rate.

By forced retirement I mean people who want a job but do not have one, so they retire to collect Social Security because they need the income.

Seasonally Adjusted Employment Growth Month-Over-Month

Age Group Employment Growth M/M SA Population Growth M/M
16-19 86,000 -6,000
20-24 103,000 -20,000
25-34 108,000 37,000
35-44 -86,000 2,000
45-54 78,000 -55,000
55+ -187,000 -6,000

Perspective on the 96K Household Survey Gain

Of the 96,000 gain in employment this month, 189,000 of it came in the age group 16-24 even though that population group dropped by 26,000!

Please stop and think about that for a second.

Yes, retirement affected the overall results, but even so, age group 35-44 lost 86,000 jobs. Overall it seems reasonably safe to assume more high-paying jobs were lost this month than gained.

Still think this was a good jobs report?

Close scrutiny of both month-over-month and year-over-year data suggests we keep adding low wage jobs while boomers retire en masse.

These job reports are nowhere near as strong as most think.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock