6

According to Rush Limbaugh, we would need about 600,000 to 700,000 new jobs a month to really begin job creation. However, the unemployment rate has been dropping with significantly smaller figures.

From Rush's transcript, Obama's Orwellian Unemployment Numbers:

Do you realize that to begin job creation at a replacement level, we would have to be in the neighborhood of 500,000 jobs a month and getting close to 600,000 to 700,000 a month to gain ground?

Now, I know Rush says a lot of things. Furthermore, he has political interests. So, I know things must be taken with a grain of salt. With that said, are there any facts to back his claim?

  • There are several elements to this question: 1) what is the desired employment-population ratio 2) given a target employment-population ratio, a target date, and a rate of population growth, how many jobs must the economy produce per month to reach that employment-population ratio by the given date 3) given an employment-population ratio and a rate of population growth, how many jobs must the economy produce per month to maintain the employment-population ratio. – drew Nov 8 '14 at 22:00
  • Try this, we actually need far more jobs than are being created each month. economicpopulist.org/content/… – user25282 Mar 6 '15 at 17:40
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According to Wikipedia (which cites U.S. Census data and CDC data, so I'm going with wikipedia anyway, for the sake of its easy-to-digest chart), the U.S. population has grown by well over 1,000,000 every year (not counting immigration) and some times more than twice that, every year since at least 1950.

I'm also looking at the U.S. immigration data found here (link from Wikipedia), for which 2010 is the last year available.

Now, I'm making a few assumptions:

  • Everyone enters the workforce at the age of 20, and works until they die.

  • Everyone enters the workforce before they die.

  • All legal U.S. immigrants enter the workforce.

These assumptions ought to lead to artificially high workforce figures for my following estimate, but should provide us with a useful upper-bound to weigh Mr. Limbaugh's claim against.

1992 had a natural population growth of 1,889,401, so this many new workers will be entering the workforce this year, given our assumptions.

In 2010, 1,042,626 legal immigrants came to the U.S. (We'll use the same number for 2012, since it's the latest data available).

This gives us 2,932,026 new workers in 2012.

So to maintian our current employment rate, we'd need to create, on average, 244,336 jobs every month.

I'd say Mr. Limbaugh was off by at least a factor of 2-3.

Unless, of course, he's pining for the rights of illegal immigrants who don't get counted in these numbers, and who cannot file for unemployment benefits. :)

  • In terms of net new jobs which preserve a stable employment rate, your figures are too high because not everybody of working age works, and too low because some people have more than one job. These do not need to balance each other out. – Henry May 7 '12 at 0:21
  • 1
    @Henry: Clearly the estimates are too high--that is addressed in my answer. Whether they are too low or not depends on whether part-time jobs are counted separately, or we're counting full-time equivalent (FTE) units. Clearly my answer assumes FTEs. I don't know what Rush Limbaugh assumed in his quote. – Flimzy May 7 '12 at 0:24
  • The analysis is a good starting point. Without hearing the full explanation, I'm guessing there are 2 other things to consider. Unless there is an excess of jobs, there will be no changing of jobs and thus a demand for workers. This is important because that is how wages grow. A second consideration is tax revenues generated. If you look at tax revenues generated by income tax from workers and look at the deficit we are currently running, you can back out the number of jobs we need to create to break even. Assuming a $50K salary I think I've seen the number pegged at 450K/mo. Add in another 45 – user22752 Nov 8 '14 at 17:17
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    @tom: How wages grow and taxes aren't directly relevant to the question. The question is only asking how many jobs are necessary (which, in theory, could pay $0 in wages and taxes) to "employ" the new people entering the workforce. – Flimzy Nov 10 '14 at 0:49

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