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Our not-so-jobless recovery?

Here's an interesting argument from Invictus: "Although we experienced the worst job-loss recession since the Great Depression, this has not been as job-less a recovery as many would have us believe. It is demonstrably better than the past two recessions as measured from the trough. Put another way, the labor market was in the deepest ditch it had been in for some 80 years and, given that, is actually doing a fairly reasonable job of climbing out."

You probably knew there was a graph coming, right? Here are private payrolls starting from the trough -- that is, when GDP stopped shrinking -- of the previous three recessions. As Invictus says, we're a bit ahead of the game:


I can think of a couple of arguments for why this chart doesn't tell enough of the story. One is that it doesn't account for the depth of our recession. It may well be easier to start adding jobs again when you've lost as many of them as we did. Going from an F to a D is easier than going from a C to a B. Another is that it ignores public payrolls, which are doing a lot of damage right now. And of course, as Invictus says, "the pace [of job creation] simply must accelerate if we are to recover all the jobs we lost in any reasonable time frame."

Nevertheless, it's interesting.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 14, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Economy  
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"It is demonstrably better than the past two recessions as measured from the trough."

I suppose 0.1% more private sector jobs than the 'trough of the recession' beats the same number of jobs in 1990-1991, although from a statisical perspective there is probably no difference.

You have the right take. The recent job gains are unimpressive given the depth of the downturn.

Severe economic contractions have been characterized historically by large declines in employment, followed by a rapid surge of employment immediately after the trough.

Could you ask invictus to add 1948, 1958, 1975 and 1982 to this chart?

Or looking at the second chart here would be even better, to see how far in the hole we are:

Posted by: justin84 | September 14, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

And deeply disingenuous (on your part)! Invictus goes on to post:

Which gives you an accurate indication of why the current job creation isn't comparable. At this level of job growth, and taking into account the growing working-age U.S. population, we'll never recover to the same percent unemployed.

Indexing job growth to the trough (and using USPIRV rather than % unemployed) is an interesting exercise in how to confuse people with statistics. It's not a convincing argument that job growth is particularly strong during this recession.

Posted by: besmit02 | September 14, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Jobless & Worried? Time to plan now, New Health Care Plan is going to insure additional 33 Million people. There is going to be huge demand for Medical Assistants, Medical Billing, Medical Coding, Pharmacy Assistant & Pharmacy Technician across the nation (estimated at least a million). You can get a training during weekends and evenings and get a degree in few months. Please note this is not a nursing degree and it is not that difficult. With the degree finding a job will be easy, contact for free consultation at this is your chance

Posted by: allenmichael15 | September 15, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

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