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There are 5.8 Million Missing Workers in the US


The August jobs report posted on the Department of Labor website ( was released to the public by the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( ) on September 2, 2022 at 8:30 am ET. Its headline read “payroll employment increases by 315,000 in August; unemployment rate rises to 3.7%.” Charts 1 and Charts 2 below were generated by using FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data). They replicate Charts 1 and 2 of the BLS jobs report and expand them to more years. 

Chart 1a. Unemployment Rate (UNRATE series, 1948-01-01 to 2022-08-01). Monthly data.


Chart 1b. Unemployment Rate (UNRATE series, 2010-01-01 to 2022-08-01). Monthly data.


The July 2022 unemployment rate of 3.5% was last seen this low in Jan.-Feb. 2020, Sep. 2019, and before that, Nov.-Dec. and Jun-Aug 1969. As pointed out in the BLS jobs report, the unemployment rate was at 3.7% in August 2022.

Chart 2a. All Employees, Total Nonfarm (PAYEMS series, 1939-01-01 to 2022-08-01). Monthly data.


Chart 2b. All Employees, Total Nonfarm (PAYEMS series, 2010-01-01 to 2022-08-01) and Regression Line. Monthly data.


All Nonfarm Employees increased from 129,790 thousand in January 2010 to 151,789 thousand in December 2019. They were 130,513 thousand in April 2020 and 152,744 thousand in August 2022—that’s 240,000 more than in February 2020 and 315,000 more than in July 2022. 

Using 2010-2019 data, the number of nonfarm employees is estimated (via simple linear regression model) to have increased by an average of 198.265 thousand per month. At this rate, the August 2022 level would be 158,564 thousand. In other words, as of August 2022, there is an estimated shortfall of 5.8 million total nonfarm employees (5,820 thousand persons).

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  • Genevieve Briand

    Genevieve Briand is the Assistant Director for MS in Applied Economics program. She has taught for the Applied Economics Program since summer, 2015, and currently teaches Microeconomic Theory, Statistics, and Econometrics. She has many years of experience teaching numerous and varied economics and statistics courses. Her fields of interest are microeconomics and econometrics. Previously, she was an Instructor at the University of Idaho, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Economics at Washington State University, and a tenured Associate Professor at Eastern Washington University. She received her PhD from Washington State University.

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