5 Things You Need to Know About the Jobs Report

We wanted to use today’s report to put a spotlight on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in honor of heritage month.

In April, payroll employment grew 160,000 and the unemployment rate remained the same at 5.0 percent. This is only the second time in the last year where job growth did not exceed 200,000/month. We wanted to use today’s report to put a spotlight on the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in honor of heritage month.

1) Job Growth

This month the economy added 160,000 total non-farm (TNF) jobs. Job growth has been consistently around 200,000 jobs per month on average since 2013, but we are now just averaging 192,000/month for 2016, which is pretty steady growth.

Total nonfarm employment, over-the-month change
Total nonfarm employment, over-the-month change

2) Unemployment for most Asian groups has fallen to near “full employment” levels, yet Pacific Islanders still lag behind

The Asian American community and its respective sub-groups have lower unemployment levels than most Americans. Prior to the recession, their unemployment levels were relatively lower. On the other hand, Pacific Islanders, who did have a lower unemployment rate than most Americans ten years ago, are still feeling the adverse effects of the recession and have not fully recovered.

Unemployment rate by Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities
Unemployment rate by Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities

3) The AAPI community’s attachment to the Labor Force may be a concerning sign

Another way to gauge the AAPI community’s economic status is to take a deeper look at the rate each community is participating in the labor force. When looking at the communities, we see some interesting and potentially concerning signs of labor market strength. For instance, while Indian and Japanese Americans participate at higher levels than most other Americans, they have seen a greater fall in their participation than other Americans. There is some good news, while all groups participation has fallen, Pacific Islanders have a strong attachment to the labor force.

Labor force participation rates by Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities
Labor force participation rates by Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities

4) Asian Americans continue to thrive as Business owners

Despite coming out of a deep recession, the AAPI community continue to grow their presence as entrepreneurs. Though the AAPI community still only represents 7.1% of all business owners, from 2007 to 2012 (the latest data available), AAPI own firms grew at a rate of 24% while the rate of growth of all firms grew at just 2%. While Chinese and Indians continue to own the most firms (growing at rates of 25% & 22% respectively); notably Pacific Islanders grew at a faster pace than the rest of the AAPI by 45%.

Number of Asian and Pacific Islander owned firms
Number of Asian and Pacific Islander owned firms

5) Mom & Pop store myth

There’s a perception that Asian American business success is due to the fact that they are solely family-run enterprises—a mom & pop & children corner store or an employee-less IT company. Contrary, Asian Americans are more likely to have businesses with employees they support than most business owners. 25% of Asian American firms have paid employees compared to 20% nation-wide. When looking at Indians, Koreans, and Chinese those numbers are 36%, 36%, and 26% respectively that have firms with paid employees. On the contrary, it is Pacific Islanders who are more likely to own firms without employees, particularly those from Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa  at 89%, 93%, and 94% own firms with no additional paid staff. We could infer that these mom and pop business are the lifeblood of those who live in the islands. The bottom line is that the AAPI community supports the economy and creates jobs.

Percent of Asian and Pacific Islander owned firms with paid employees
Percent of Asian and Pacific Islander owned firms with paid employees

Harin J. Contractor (@harincontractor) & Charles Carson (@CharlesC1983) are former economic policy advisors to the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

5 Things You Need to Know About the Jobs Report