May jobs report: Systemic job problems remain


AUSTIN, June 6, 2014 — The U.S. Labor Department today released its always anticipated monthly employment situation report. It says 217,000 jobs were created last month while the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.3 percent. Those results closely mirror economist expectations.

Author/BLS data: There is job growth, but overall it is very slow
Author/BLS data: There is job growth, but overall it is very slow

The biggest jobs news of the month is that all 8.7 million nonfarm jobs lost in the Great Recession are now officially recovered. The last time there were this many nonfarm jobs in the United States was in January of 2008, over six long years ago.

But before breaking out the champagne, an accounting of what that means is necessary. It isn’t pretty.

Given that we are right back where we started at the beginning of 2008, here are some sobering statistics comparing then with now:

  • ZERO: Net nonfarm jobs growth
  • +15 million: Working age population growth
  • +12 million: More not in the labor force
  • +2 million: More want a job now
  • +2.1 million: More unemployed workers today
  • +1.5 million: Growth of the civilian labor force
  • -3.8%: Drop in the labor force participation rate
  • -4%: Decrease in the employment-population ratio
  • +1.3%: Net unemployment growth
  • +3.0%: Net U-6 (real) unemployment growth

Sure, 8.7 million jobs have come back, but with a growth of 15 million more potential workers, only 1/10th of them have added to the overall civilian labor force. Many millions more have simply dropped out of the workforce entirely and vanished from the statistics.

In short, nothing in the overall jobs market today is remotely close to being better than it was in January 2008. Put away the champagne.

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  • Steve Davidson

    I hadn’t heard about that use of deficit spending, but am not surprised.