Unexpectedly Intriguing!
14 March 2014

What is the natural rate of unemployment in the U.S. going into 2014? And how much slack is there in the U.S. job market?

We have the tool to answer those questions, and we now also have the finalized data for the number of employed and unemployed Americans as well as the job turnover rates for which Americans were being hired into new jobs or separated from their old ones through the end of 2013.

Those values for December 2013 have been entered in the tool below - the only thing separating you from the answers is your clicking of the "Calculate" button!

BLS Employment Situation Table A-1 Data
Input Data Values
Total, Civilian Labor Force, Employed (thousands)
Total, Civilian Labor Force, Unemployed (thousands)
BLS Job Overview and Labor Turnover Table A Data
Total Hires (thousands)
Total Job Separations (thousands)

Natural Rate of Unemployment Results
Calculated Results Values
Ratio of New Hires to Number of Unemployed (%)
Ratio of Job Separations to Number of Employed (%)
Natural Rate of Unemployment (%)
Official Unemployment Rate (%)
How much slack is there in the labor market?

What we find is that the natural rate of unemployment has fallen to 6.53% in December 2013, while the actual rate of unemployment to close out the year was 6.68%.

With less than a half-percentage point difference between these values, these figures suggest that there is some, but not much, slack in the U.S. job market. Comparing these figures to our results from a year ago, we see that the amount of slack has slightly narrowed.

We do not however see any indication of overheating in the job market, which would be the case if the actual unemployment rate were above the natural rate, suggesting that the overall trajectory of jobs will continue to follow a trend of slow improvement.

Want to Run the Latest Numbers for Yourself?

You can get the most recently reported data through the links below - take care though to avoid mixing and matching the data for different months!

Employment Situation (EMPSIT)

This report is produced monthly and contains the number of employed and the number of unemployed for the total U.S. civilian workforce. The appropriate data is found in Table A-1 in the data section of the report.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS)

This report is produced quarterly and provides the numbers of those newly hired or who have recently separated from their previous employment in the civilian workforce. This data is found in Table A of the main body of the report.

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Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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