Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unemployment by Sector

Here is a graph presenting the current employment index for various industries. The base is 100 in January 1st of 2007.

The colors might be a little hard to see, but construction is lowest (duh) followed by durable goods manufacturing and then non-durable manufacturing. Education and health services appear to be recession proof. Government includes fed and state and local. Big jump because of the census temp workers.The cluster below the top three is retail, business services, and trade, transportation and utilities.


Going back to 1995, we see that there is great dispersion in sectoral growth rates. Now, we are capturing the tech bubble bursting and the real estate crash. These separately explain the crash in IT workers (although the year 2000 thing is important too) and the construction and manufacturing crashes. Note that long-run decline in non-durable manufacturing. Durable manufacturing seems to plateau for a while, and then crashes cause it to move again. This is at a time when value-added from manufacturing in the U.S. is ever-increasing, mind (peaked around '08).

Below that, I provide another graph where I reset the base month to Jan of 2000. Patterns (of course) are the same, but some may find it a clearer graph.


  1. Forgot to mention: data is from the St. Louis Fed. I used establishment survey data.

  2. Jeff,

    Stimulus was signed in Feb 2009, about right in the middle of the data set - nearly $900 billion dollars.

    They swore unemployment would not drop below 8%. I know your graph doesn't correlate to the official unemployment rate, but I can't even see where the data was affected by the stimulus bill.

  3. Did you watch the videos of Russ Roberts' and John Taylor's testimony about the stimulus? It's at the Cafe.

    One could make the argument that if the Feds had spent $900 billion on infrastructure, the construction industry employment would have gone way up.

    I still don't support stimulus, for a variety of reasons, but you could make the argument.

  4. I didn't watch the video, but I did see the blogspot. That picture with Russ and another gentleman, separated by two empty chairs (reserved for the administration) was simply genius.