The full scope of the coronavirus-caused economic shutdown is now coming into focus after an analysis of the employment-to-population ratio from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that nearly half of the American population is unemployed.
After employment climbed to 61.2% in January, just a few percentage points away from the post-war record of 64.7% set in 2000, the pandemic lockdowns brought that number crashing down to just 52.8%. That is, 47.2% of Americans — almost half of the population — are jobless.
The employment-to-population ratio is a different indicator than the unemployment rate, which measures employment levels among those who are actively looking for a job. The ratio accounts for those who were discouraged out of even pursuing one.
"To get the employment-to-population ratio back to where it was at its peak in 2000 we need to create 30 million jobs," Torsten Slok, Deutsche Bank's chief economist, said in an email.
The month of May recorded the addition of 2.5 million new jobs, the largest single-month jobs increase in history. Economists say they are now anticipating 3.15 million new jobs in this month's report, even though panic over a coronavirus resurgence has prompted a slowdown in the labor market's recovery pace.