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The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI)® January 2021

The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI)® January 2021

By PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2021 Following the release of the Employment Situation Report for January 2021 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI)® has been revised to a level of 79.36, up by 0.54% from its revised level one month earlier (which, for this month’s report, was materially impacted by annual seasonal adjustment revisions to data for the past 12 months) and reflecting a lower proportion – relative to the prior month – of U.S. production and non-supervisory (P&NS) jobs paying less than the mean weekly income of all P&NS jobs (“Low Quality Jobs”), relative to those jobs paying above such mean. The JQI remains heavily impacted by the extraordinary disruption in the number and composition of private sector production and non-supervisory jobs since the beginning of the U.S. impact of the COVID19 global pandemic, with regard to which the following additional special factors should be noted:

  • the BLS Employment Situation Report for January reflects a 6,000 increase in private sector payrolls and, with the annual seasonal factors adjustment playing a role, substantially greater declines in job formation in November and December 2020 than had been previously reported. The January reading appears to reflect the cumulative impact of the sustained historically high level of initial weekly claims for unemployment insurance benefits which itself is reflective of overall damage to employers as well as virus surges and colder weather. The restoration of federal unemployment insurance supplements in January may, however, have factored temporarily into increased claims.
  • Notably, while overall job private sector job growth rose in January by 6,000, production and non-supervisory jobs declined in the private sector by -105,000. Mostly in low-wage, low-hours sectors.
  • More workers in Low Quality jobs who were laid off during the peak crisis months, returning to their jobs starting in mid-year and through the fall, were again laid off in November 2020 through January 2021. This will stall the JQI reversion back to its pre-pandemic, lower levels to the extent that those lower quality jobs continue to be lost over the winter, as they were in January; and
  • the JQI may rise or fall for a period of time to the extent that such large numbers of Low Quality Jobs have been substantially eliminated or restored (temporarily or otherwise), as offset by the significantly higher benchmark mean weekly income used in computing the index since the elimination of large numbers of Low Quality Jobs.

The mean weekly wage income of all P&NS jobs as of the current reading (which reflects the level as of December 2020) decreased to 801.17, a change of -0.50% from its revised level the month prior (which, for this month’s report, was materially impacted by annual seasonal adjustment revisions to data for the past 12 months). This reflects the continued absence (as a result of the pandemic) of the low-wage/low-hours positions that had grown substantially in number over the course of the past four years. The JQ-Instant™ preliminary read of the 6,000 gain in all private sector, non-farm payrolls for January 2021 shows that 0% of such gains in private sector jobs were in industry sectors offering P&NS jobs with an average weekly income below the mean weekly income of all P&NS jobs (i.e. “Low Quality Jobs”). This reading was due to a very substantial loss of jobs in the leisure and hospitality, retail and healthcare and social assistance sectors, and – more generally – the -105,000 January 2021 decline in production and non-supervisory private sector jobs, which tend to be lower income than supervisory positions.

Daniel Alpert, co-creator of the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index, said

“While overall job private sector jobs rose in January by a lower-than-expected 6,000 positions, production and non-supervisory jobs declined in the private sector by -105,000, mostly in low-wage, low-hours sectors.”

For an explanatory video on the JQI, please 

This news release presents data from the most recent JQI reading calculated through the month immediately prior to the month covered by this release. The JQI assesses job quality in the United States by measuring desirable higher-wage/higher-hour jobs versus lower-wage/lower-hour jobs. The JQI offers a near-real time analytical tool to policymakers, researchers and financial market participants with relevance to a variety of trends in the economy at large. The JQI analyzes a representative sample of the economy using production and non-supervisory job (P&NS) data from 180 different industry groups spanning across all 20 super-sectors into which the BLS groups establishments. The principal data utilized is contained in the Current Employment Survey (CES, also often referred to as the establishment survey) P&NS data on average weekly hours, average hourly wage and total employment for each given industry group (seasonally adjusted, in all cases). The JQI is updated on a monthly basis contemporaneously with the release of new CES data from the BLS.

The JQ-Instant reading is for the month covered by this release and has implications for the likely direction of the JQI itself in future months. As the JQI is reported as a three-month rolling average of actual monthly readings, significant imbalances (readings varying from an even distribution between high and low quality jobs) in the JQ-Instant results would suggest future JQI readings moving in the direction of the dominant side of such distribution.

The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (patent pending) is a joint development of the Program on the Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets at the Jack G. Clarke Institute of Cornell Law School, the University of Missouri Kansas City Department of Economics, the Coalition for a Prosperous America, and the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity.

For more information, and to read the full report, visit

©2021 JQI IP Holdings LLC. “Private Sector Job Quality Index” and “JQI” are registered trademarks of JQI IP Holdings LLC. The Private Sector Job Quality Index is patent pending, application number US 62/900,923. Cornell logo and Cornell Law School and Jack G. Clarke Program names and references used with permission.

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