The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) rate for prime-age workers (ages 25-54) inched up to 78.3 percent in February, a new high for the recovery, as the economy added 235,000 jobs in the month. The unemployment rate was little changed at 4.7 percent.
The EPOP for prime-age workers is 0.5 percentage points above its year-ago level. Most of the rise has been among women, with an increase in the prime-age EPOP of 0.8 percentage points to 71.6 percent over the last year. The rise among men over this period has been just 0.2 percentage points. The EPOP for women is 1.3 percentage points below its pre-recession peak, while the EPOP for men is 2.7 percentage points below the pre-recession peak. Compared to the 2000 peak, women’s EPOP is down by more than 3.0 percentage points and men’s by more than 4.0 percentage points.
The rise in EPOPs over the last year is noteworthy since it suggests that there are more workers being pulled into the labor force as the recovery continues, even as the unemployment rate has remained relatively stable. If this trend continues, it indicates that the labor market can continue to tighten without creating inflationary pressure. For more, see the latest Jobs Byte.