The share of workers in their prime working years jumped up to a new high of 78.5 percent for this recovery. But the prime-age employment rate still has a way to go to match the 2007 peak of about 80 percent, never mind the 2001 levels of around 82 percent.
The U-6 rate, a broader measure of labor market slack than the unemployment rate, declined in March, but still is above pre-recession levels.
Nominal wage growth is increasing for all workers but it declined to an annual 2.3 percent rate in March for production and nonsupervisory employees from 2.5 percent in February. And this is happening as headline inflation is increasing.
Manufacturing jobs, a focus of much policy conversation, still have not recovered from the Great Recession and growth rates are slow. In contrast, education and health services have been steadily growing for the last decade.
The overall unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in March, but let’s not forget the significant variation in unemployment by educational levels.