A Jobless Recovery
Social science policy researcher Colin Gordon re-structures his evaluation of the national job numbers by tweaking his accompanying graphic to compare all postwar recessions and isolate the recovery phase of each business cycle. The first metric, “since the start of recession,” tracks non-farm jobs by month from the onset of each downturn, until the job numbers return to their pre-recession level. The second metric, “since start of recovery,” tracks non-farm jobs from the trough of each recession for four years (or until the start of the next business cycle). This throws into sharp relief the peculiar character of our more recent recoveries. From the 1940s through the 1980s, recovery was accompanied by significant job growth—on the order of between 10 and 20 percent after four years. In our last three recessions, by contrast, we actually continued to lose jobs through the first months of “recovery,” and then added jobs at a glacial pace.
Gordon is a frequent contributor to Dissent magazine, a non-profit quarterly magazine which focuses on politics and culture topics.