The latest Labor Department jobs report, as James Pethokoukis of AEIdeas noted, was especially dismal. For one thing, there’s this:
The Labor Department also said that 41,000 fewer jobs were created in June and July than previously reported. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from 64,000 to 45,000, and the change for July was revised from 163,000 to 141,000.
These are very sharp downward corrections of initially erroneous (it turns out) numbers. In fact, this initial coarse overestimation of job creation by Labor has become pretty commonplace this year. Some might say that Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama’s Labor Department is trying to cook the books for their boss’ benefit. I’m not convinced of that. It seems more likely to me that our economic situation simply is so dismal that it’s much harder today for the government to collect reasonably accurate near-real time data than it was in past times.
Here are some ugly graphs that further illustrate the depths of our economic woes three and a half years on, and three years after the nominal end of this recession.
This graph, from Pethokoukis’ article, shows the sharp fall-off (I hesitate, so far, to call it a collapse) in labor force participation over the last dozen years.
Notice that. The recession formally ended in spring 2009, yet, as The Wall Street Journal noted, participation has kept right on falling during these three years of recovery—an unprecedented decline in our history. And to put a bit more perspective on this decline, see the next graph, from the same WSJ link:
We haven’t had so low a per centage of Americans trying to find work in 30 years. And it took the last three years—three years during which we’re “recovering,” we’re “on the right path,” and “it just takes a bit more time,” as some have lately insisted—to sink to such a depth.
One more ugly picture. Pethokoukis also cited a graph from The Hamilton Project that illustrates the “jobs gap” in our current economy. (It’s an interactive graph at the Project; go over and play with it). This gap, according to the Project, is the monthly number of jobs that the US economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.
The 96,000 jobs in this graph is the increase the latest Labor report says we had for the month of August. The other three lines represent, in decreasing order, the effect of steady increases of 472,000 jobs/mo (from the highest single month in this century), 321,000 jobs/mo (the average of the best year in the ’90s), and 208,000 jobs/mo (the average of the best year in the 2000s).
We’re not even keeping up. To paraphrase Anderson Cooper, those insisting we’re “making progress” are in an alternate universe.
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