Nov 9, 2015
If you only watched TV and read the newspapers, you’d think the U.S. economy was doing great. CNBC’s report on jobs ran: “BOOM! Nonfarm payrolls up 271,000." The stodgier New York Times reported “Strong Growth in Jobs.”
In reality, the proportion of people in the labor market in this country is still at a 38-year low: just 62.4 percent. This means that the unemployment rate has only gone down because so many people have given up looking for work. In fact, the total number of jobs in the economy has just now gotten back to where it was before the 2008 crisis. But the total population is much higher. The same number of jobs for more workers means we are still way behind where we were seven and a half years ago!
And this is the longest it has ever taken for the total number of jobs to recover from a recession. And it gets longer each time – in 1980, it took less than a year. In 1990, 2 years. In 2001, 3 years.
These numbers show what anyone actually looking for work already knows: for ordinary people, the economy sucks, it has sucked for a long time, and there is no sign of improvement.