The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI)® February 2021

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U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index Revised to 81.58, from Previous Month - Reflecting a Lower Proportion of Low Quality Production and Non-Supervisory Jobs Relative to the Total of All Such Jobs.

More workers in Low Quality jobs who were laid off during the peak crisis months, returned to their jobs starting in mid-year and through the fall of 2020, were again laid off in November 2020 through January 2021. This trend dramatically reversed itself in February.

Following the release of the Employment Situation Report for February 2021 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 81.58, up by 0.67% from its revised level one month earlier and reflecting a lower 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. This rise is likely to reverse itself in the JQI for February 2021, given today’s broader data. The JQI remains heavily impacted by the extraordinary disruption in the number and composition of private sector production and non-supervisory jobs since the beginning of the U.S. impact of the COVID19 global pandemic, with regard to which the following additional special factors should be noted:

  • the BLS Employment Situation Report for January reflects a net 465,000 increase in private sector payrolls, all of which can be tied to low-wage/low-hours sectors – as reflected in the JQInstant readout below.
  • More workers in Low Quality jobs who were laid off during the peak crisis months, returned to their jobs starting in mid-year and through the fall of 2020, were again laid off in November 2020 through January 2021. This trend dramatically reversed itself in February.
  • 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 since 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 January 2021) increased to 862.28, a change of 0.69% from its revised level the month prior. This series continues to reflect the continued absence (as a result of the pandemic) of the low-wage/low-hours positions that had grown substantially in number over the course of the four years prior to the pandemic. The JQ-Instant™ preliminary read of the 465,000 gain in all private sector, non-farm payrolls for February 2021 shows that 100% of such gain 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). This reading was due to the very substantial gain, in February, of jobs in the leisure and hospitality, retail, healthcare and social assistance, and administrative and waste management sectors – collectively adding 490,000 positions.

Daniel Alpert, co-creator of the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index, said “More workers in Low Quality jobs who were laid off during the peak crisis months, returned to their jobs starting in mid-year and through the fall of 2020, were again laid off in November 2020 through January 2021. This trend dramatically reversed itself in February.”

For an explanatory video on the JQI, please see: http://www.vimeo.com/jqi.

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 https://www.jobqualityindex.com/.
©2021 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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Melissa Tallman
Coalition for a Prosperous America
315-269-4205
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