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March 1996, Vol. 119, No. 3
Jennifer M. Gardner and Howard V. Hayghe
The labor market continued to expand in 1995, but at a much slower rate than in either of the previous 2 years. The rapid growth in payroll employment that characterized 1993 and 1994 continued into the first quarter of 1995, then slowed dramatically. Job gains were very moderate for the remainder of the year, but still were sufficient to keep the unemployment rate at about the level it had reached at the end of 1994.
The modest economic growth suggested by the employment data for 1995 is confirmed by other economic indicators. (See chart 1.) Real gross domestic product (GDP) - which measures the overall output of the economy, adjusted for changes in prices-grew at a much slower pace in 1995 than in 1994. Contributing to the generally lackluster performance was the trend in government purchases, which fell in 3 out of the 4 quarters of 1995.
Sectors of the economy that are sensitive to consumer demand also showed weakness during the past year. Retail sales-a measure that, while volatile, provides insight into consumers' perceptions of current and future economic conditions-grew at a slower pace in 1995 than during most of the prior 2 years. The housing market also was weak, despite declines in mortgage interest rates to near-1993 levels (the lowest in two decades). Housing starts recovered from an early downturn in 1995, but remained below year-earlier levels.
This article reviews the important changes in Office of Employment the employment picture that occurred in 1995 as and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of the economy was cooling down from 1994's robust expansion. It discusses the trends in non-farm payroll employment by industry, as well as changes in the employment status of persons in various demographic and occupational groups. The data in this article were collected through the Bureau of Labor Statistics two monthly employment surveys, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey and the Current Population Survey (CPS).1 Employment and unemployment data used in this article are quarterly averages, unless otherwise noted.
This excerpt is from an article published in the March 1996 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects information on payroll employment, hours, and earnings from about 390,000 nonfarm business establishments containing over 47 million workers. The Current Population Survey (CPS), a nationwide sample survey conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Bureau of the Census, collects information about the demographic characteristics and employment status of the noninstitutional population aged 16 and older. In January 1996, the CPS sample was reduced from about 60,000 households to approximately 50,000 households. Fourth-quarter data from the CES survey are preliminary.
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