SELF-EMPLOYMENT REMAINS WEAK – EXCEPT FOR THOSE INCORPORATED. A common refrain in this recovery is that self-employment is lagging badly. That is generally true if you look at the traditional measure of self-employment which covers unincorporated businesses (primarily sole proprietors) only. The top graph shows that the level of traditional unincorporated self-employment has been locked in a downtrend during much of the period since 2007. Currently about 9 million persons are self-employed in unincorporated businesses.
STRENGTH IN THE FARM SECTOR REACHES NEW HEIGHTS. A boom in agriculture has been underway in the U.S. since 2009. The breadth and strength of the ongoing expansion in the farm sector isn’t widely recognized outside the Plains states. Crop prices have reached remarkable levels relative to prices from only a decade ago. And it is not just the price for ethanol-driven corn.
BOTTOM IN THE EMPLOYMENT-POPULATION RATIO IS ENCOURAGING. Way too much attention is paid to the labor force participation rate. It is the most commonly used measure of the level of involvement of the population in the labor force, but it is not the measure that contains the most information. That honor belongs to the employment-population ratio.
U.S. Job Growth Remains Both Strong and Consistent. It has become fashionable to describe U.S. job growth as sub-par or below expectations. But a deeper look at the data reveals something entirely different – remarkably strong and steady job growth. The U.S. labor market has improved consistently since early 2010 and is now adding jobs at a nearly 2% annual pace. In fact, job growth has now remained above 1.5% at an annual rate for more than 2 years.
The number of problem banks resolved by the FDIC continues to diminish in 2014. The data on the U.S. banking system continues to improve. The number of failed institutions totaled only 24 in 2013 and is on pace to improve further in 2014. Although nearly 500 banks have failed since 2008, the total remains well below the number of failures suffered in the cycle of the early 1990′s.