Betsey Stevenson on the June jobs report: new jobs, flat wages, falling labor force participation

July 10, 2015

The American economy added 223,000 jobs this month, but wages have not risen and labor force participation has fallen to its lowest level since 1977, according to the Department of Labor's June jobs report. As a member of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, the Ford School's Betsey Stevenson discussed the report with news outlets across the country, including PoliticoNPR, Market Watch, the Examiner, the Portland Press Herald, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Bloomberg.

Stevenson told Bloomberg that this was the 64th straight month of job creation, which is an all-time record. In a blog post quoted by Market Watch and the Portland Press Herald, she noted that the disheartening labor force participation rate—62.6 percent, down from a high of around 67 percent fifteen years ago—was partly due to the timing of the report, which fell early this year, before many college graduates could be counted as members of the workforce.

As for flat wages, Stevenson admitted to Politico that "zero is a disappointing number." The Department of Labor, however, recently proposed an increase in eligibility for overtime pay that is intended to raise both wages and labor force participation. This is an important corrective, since more people are now working over 40 hours a week than at any time since 2010. 

Betsey Stevenson is a member of President Obama's three-person Council of Economic Advisers and an associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.