American workers, breathe easy. Your company probably isn’t going to fire you anytime soon.
According to Labor Department data cited by the Wall Street Journal this week,”for every 10,000 people in the workforce, 66 claimed new unemployment benefits in July.” That means the odds you will get laid off from your job are the lowest they’ve been in at least 50 years, when the government began tracking such data in 1967.
The previous low was recorded at the height of the tech boom in the spring of 2000, when the rate of layoffs was 83 per 10,000 workers.
Probably the most common statistic used as an indicator for the state of the economy is the unemployment rate, measured at 4.3% in July 2017. In 2016 and 2017, the U.S. unemployment rate has been at 5% or below, which is the lowest it’s been consistently since 2007. By contrast, in 2009 and 2010, during the worst of the Great Recession, the national unemployment rate regularly hit 9.5% to 10%.
While the unemployment rate measures the percentage of the population that’s actively out of work and seeking employment, the layoff rate is more of an indicator of job security—tracking the percentage of workers laid off in a given month. And clearly, job security in the U.S. is pretty darn high right about now.
Mind you, that’s great only if you have a job. We must note that neither the unemployment or laid-off rate factors in the unusually high percentage of American adults who aren’t working and aren’t seeking jobs, nor the number of workers stuck in part-time or “gig economy” jobs because they’ve been unable to find traditional full-time employment.
The labor force participation rate, measuring the percentage of Americans 16 and over with jobs, has been below 63% since around 2013, compared to rates of 66% to 67% in the late 1990s through the mid-’00s. In other words, more people today aren’t in the workforce.
The vast majority of them aren’t seeking work—they may be raising kids, going to college, or simply enjoying retirement. However, there are also many people who are out of the workforce and aren’t factored into unemployment figures simply because they have given up the pursuit of a job. In a 2016 poll, 43% of the jobless said they had stopped looking for employment.