NEARLY ALL NET NEW JOBS CREATED IN THE RECOVERY ARE FULL-TIME. Our pic-of-the-week highlights the differing trends in full-time and part-time job creation in the recession and recovery. The U.S. economy has added more than 8 million jobs so far in the job expansion that began in January 2010, and nearly all of the net new jobs are full-time. Part-time employment surged during the recession but has not contributed to job growth in the recovery.
The string of weak retail sales reports in the first four months of 2015 are not an indication of slowing overall economic activity. Instead, recent weakness in the retail data merely reflects the steep fall in sales at gasoline stations since November 2014. In our pic-of-the-week, retail sales minus gasoline station sales continues to show a very steady uptrend, even in the most recent data.
NEARLY ALL OKLAHOMA COUNTIES HAVE DECLINING UNEMPLOYMENT RATES THE PAST YEAR. There are a number of ways to gauge the underlying strength of a state economy. One useful way is to measure the cumulative health of the individual counties. We often do this using a simple form of diffusion index which is simply the sum of counties with a declining unemployment rate the past 12 months. For Oklahoma the indicator has returned to very positive territory. After sluggishness in the state economy in 2013, the state has bounced back in 2014 with the jobless rate in a distinct downtrend in nearly every county.
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.