Think about it. We haven’t yet hit bottom on employment but that will happen at some point. Employment is not going to zero, of that we can assure you. But when we do start to see the economic clouds part in a more decisive fashion, what are employers likely to do first? Well, naturally they will begin to boost the workweek and just getting back to pre-recession levels would be the same as hiring more than two million people. Then there are the record number of people who got furloughed into part-time work and again, they total over nine million, and these folks are not counted as unemployed even if they are working considerably fewer days than they were before the credit crunch began. So the business sector has a vast pool of resources to draw from before they start tapping into the ranks of the unemployed or the typical 100,000-125,000 new entrants into the labour force when the economy turns the corner. Hence the unemployment rate is going to very likely be making new highs long after the recession is over — perhaps even years.
“We have been forced to make a false choice in the past—good jobs or a clean environment. The pundits said that if we wanted clean air, the economy would suffer and jobs would be sent overseas. Well, look what happened—we let the big corporations pollute and the jobs went overseas anyway. But today is a new day.”
[T]he U.S. population is significantly larger today (about 308 million) than in the early '80s (about 228 million) when the number of part time workers almost reached 7 million. Still - even adjusted for population - part time workers is at record levels.
The optimist in me says Obama can pivot off a health-care victory and launch some new initiatives that palpably and quickly spur job growth. The realist says there aren’t any such initiatives — at least none that can work fast enough to reverse the tide of unemployment before the midterm elections.
"I would say that there is zero reversal and it's growing (offshore) faster than ever," he said.
Tennessee’s unemployment fell 0.2 percentage points in September, with professional services job growth outpacing retail job losses. However, 11,300 people left the state’s work force in the past month, meaning they were no longer counted in the jobless number.
That looks like a very good deal: buying an extra productive job for an American today at a cost of $2000 per year in higher taxes looking forward--particularly when you think that some of those extra jobs build up our productive capacity to make us richer in the future as well.Mark Thoma follows up with some more perspective on the political dynamics of a crummy labor market:
I don't understand why the left has allowed its hands to be tied be the GOP's framing of the stimulus issue. Of course it's a political non-starter if you don't fight back and present alternative arguments. There are benefits to stabilizing the economy by shifting demand from the good times to the bad times even if it doesn't affect future economic growth (one could even argue that slightly lower growth is an acceptable trade off for enhanced stability, but that too is a political non-starter). People need jobs, and we need to put the policies in place - whatever those are - that can provide them.
I see this as more than the conventional hand-wringing about a "jobless recovery." That phrase might suggest that we're just talking about a replay of the anemic recovery that followed the 2001 recession. In the first 6 months of 2002, nonfarm payrolls fell by 350,000, or 58,000 per month. In July and August of 2009, payrolls fell by 492,000. If the recession really ended in June, as some claim, this is a much more serious problem than we saw in 2002-2003.
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