The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI)® August 2020

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U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index Revised to 83.26, from Previous Month - Reflecting a Higher Proportion of Low Quality Production and Non-Supervisory Jobs Relative to the Total of All Such Jobs.

"...we are still down 10.7 million production and non-supervisory jobs from the before the crisis – mostly Low Quality - and it remains to be seen of we will see those jobs restored any time in the near future."

Following the release of the Employment Situation Report for August 2020 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI)® has been revised to a level of 83.26, down by 0.42% from its revised level one month earlier and reflecting a higher proportion - relative to the prior month - of U.S. production and non-supervisory (P&NS) jobs paying less than the mean weekly income of all P&NS jobs (“Low Quality Jobs”), relative to those jobs paying above such mean.

The JQI remains heavily impacted by the continued unprecedented loss of approximately 10 million production and non-supervisory jobs since the beginning of the U.S. impact of the COVID19 global pandemic (net of additions in May through August), with regard to which the following additional special factors should be noted:

  • (i) the BLS Employment Situation Report for August, while reflecting further deceleration of private sector payrolls seen from May through July, evidences the re-employment of millions of workers in Low Quality jobs who were laid off during the peak crisis months – this will continue, if sustained, to drive the JQI back to its prior lower levels;
  • (ii) indications, evidenced in our survey released on August 4, 2020 in cooperation with RIWI Corp., are that workers “re-payrolled,” via the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) established pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), are again being laid off as the vast majority of PPP funds were disbursed by employers from May through July, leaving in doubt the capacity of many small and medium sized firms to maintain payrolls at levels reflected in the August BLS report;
  • (iii) the payroll gains, as reflected in JQ-Instant™ reading, below, were concentrated in sectors offering Low Quality Jobs, following the elimination of millions of such jobs during the lockdown months; and
  • (iv) the JQI may rise or fall for a period of time to the extent that such large numbers of Low Quality Jobs have been substantially eliminated or restored (temporarily or otherwise), as offset by the significantly higher benchmark mean weekly income used in computing the index and resulting from the elimination of large numbers of Low Quality Jobs.

The mean weekly wage income of all P&NS jobs as of the current reading (which reflects the level as of July 2020) declined to $833.84, a change of -0.40% from its revised level the month prior. This reflects the large number of previously-eliminated low-wage/low hours jobs added back to payrolls through July. The JQ-Instant™ preliminary read of the 1.03 million gain in all private sector, non-farm payrolls for August 2020 shows that approximately 59.49% of the gains in private sector jobs were in industry sectors offering P&NS jobs with an average weekly income below the mean weekly income of all P&NS jobs (i.e. “Low Quality Jobs”). Note that, as of June 2020, the calculations used to render the JQ-Instant™ have been slightly remapped to improve links between employment sectors used in the JQ-Instant™ and those used in the calculation of the JQI.

Daniel Alpert, co-creator of the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index, said, "The Job Quality Index is now rolling over and likely to head towards pre-crisis levels as production and non-supervisory, low-wage, low-hour jobs have returned. But we are still down 10.7 million production and non-supervisory jobs from the before the crisis – mostly Low Quality - and it remains to be seen of we will see those jobs restored any time in the near future."

For an explanatory video on the JQI, please see:

This news release presents data from the most recent JQI reading calculated through the month immediately prior to the month covered by this release. The JQI assesses job quality in the United States by measuring desirable higher-wage/higher-hour jobs versus lower-wage/lower-hour jobs. The JQI offers a near-real time analytical tool to policymakers, researchers and financial market participants with relevance to a variety of trends in the economy at large. The JQI analyzes a representative sample of the economy using production and non-supervisory job (P&NS) data from 180 different industry groups spanning across all 20 super-sectors into which the BLS groups establishments. The principal data utilized is contained in the Current Employment Survey (CES, also often referred to as the establishment survey) P&NS data on average weekly hours, average hourly wage and total employment for each given industry group (seasonally adjusted, in all cases). The JQI is updated on a monthly basis contemporaneously with the release of new CES data from the BLS.

The JQ-Instant reading is for the month covered by this release and has implications for the likely direction of the JQI itself in future months. As the JQI is reported as a three-month rolling average of actual monthly readings, significant imbalances (readings varying from an even distribution between high and low quality jobs) in the JQ-Instant results would suggest future JQI readings moving in the direction of the dominant side of such distribution.

The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (patent pending) is a joint development of the Program on the Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets at the Jack G. Clarke Institute of Cornell Law School, the University of Missouri Kansas City Department of Economics, the Coalition for a Prosperous America, and the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity.

For more information, and to read the full report, visit

©2020 JQI IP Holdings LLC. “Private Sector Job Quality Index” and “JQI” are registered trademarks of JQI IP Holdings LLC. The Private Sector Job Quality Index is patent pending, application number US 62/900,923. Cornell logo and Cornell Law School and Jack G. Clarke Program names and references used with permission.

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Elise Perkins
Rally Point Media Strategies
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