The Top 10 Years for Financial Employment

June 10, 2019

The last couple of years have been good for the financial industry.  Financial industry employment is up 1.8 percent since the end of 2017.  Not the strongest growth rate – that title belongs to Natural Resources, Mining, and Construction at 5.8 percent – but stronger than Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, Retail Trade, and Information.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The sanguine picture of financial industry employment, coming at a time when the global economy seems to be at a crossroads, suggests that now may be a good time to review the top 10 years for financial employment. 

Before looking at the list, which year would you guess had the strongest average year-over-year financial industry employment growth?  The financial booms of 2005 to 2007?  What about the dot-com boom in the late 90s and early 2000s?

Take your guess now.  The list follows.

The Top 10 Years for Financial Employment Growth

10. 1967

In tenth place is 1967. The year of the Mustang saw financial employment expand 4.2 percent in a year when the overall Unemployment rate was 3.8 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 4.2
  • Employment Total: 65,935,416.7
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 3.0
  • Unemployment rate Total: 3.8
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 57.3
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 59.6

9. 1998

In ninth place is 1998. The dot-com era year saw financial employment grow 4.3 percent and the Unemployment Rate was 4.5 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 4.3
  • Employment Total: 126,146,833.3
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 2.6
  • Unemployment rate Total: 4.5
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 64.1
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 67.1

8. 1955

In eighth place is 1955. The post-World War II year saw financial employment grow by 4.5 percent and the Unemployment Rate was 4.4 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 4.5
  • Employment Total: 50,736,833.3
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 3.4
  • Unemployment rate Total: 4.4
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 56.6
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 59.2

7. 1977

In seventh place is 1977. The pre-hyperinflation year saw financial employment grow by 4.6 percent and the Unemployment Rate was 7.1 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 4.6
  • Employment Total: 82,599,750
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 3.9
  • Unemployment rate Total: 7.1
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 57.9
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 62.2

6. 1985

In sixth place is 1985. The early Reagan years saw financial employment grow by 4.7 percent and the Unemployment Rate was 7.2 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 4.7
  • Employment Total: 97,528,666.7
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 3.2
  • Unemployment rate Total: 7.2
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 60.1
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 64.8

5. 1968

The first member of the top 5 is 1968. The second year in this top 10 list from the 1960s saw financial employment grow by 4.8 percent with an Unemployment Rate of 3.6 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 4.8
  • Employment Total: 68,026,666.7
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 3.2
  • Unemployment rate Total: 3.6
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 57.5
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 59.6

4. 1969

In fourth place is another 1960s year, this one the last year of the 1960s – 1969. The year saw financial employment grow by 5.3 percent with an Unemployment Rate of 3.5 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 5.3
  • Employment Total: 70,514,833.3
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 3.7
  • Unemployment rate Total: 3.5
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 58.0
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 60.1

3. 1979

In third place is the hyperinflation year of 1979. The year saw financial employment expand by 5.3 percent with an Unemployment Rate of 5.9 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 5.3
  • Employment Total: 89,935,500
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 3.6
  • Unemployment rate Total: 5.9
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 59.9
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 63.7

2. 1986

In second place is 1986. The second Reagan year saw financial employment explode by 5.4 percent with an Unemployment Rate of 7.0 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 5.4
  • Employment Total: 99,497,500
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 2.0
  • Unemployment rate Total: 7.0
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 60.7
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 65.2

1. 1978

The top year for financial employment growth was 1978. This year – 40 years ago – saw financial employment grow by an incredible 5.8 percent with an Unemployment Rate of 6.1 percent.

  • Financial employment Year over Year: 5.8
  • Employment Total: 86,829,083.3
  • Employment Total Year over Year: 5.1
  • Unemployment rate Total: 6.1
  • Ratio civilian employment to population: 59.3
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: 63.2

Methodology Data was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The reported figures are the annual averages of the reported monthly figures.  The analysis uses the period 1950 to May 2019.  The ranking is of financial employment growth, which is the average year-over-year growth rate in financial activities.

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