Manual Job Growth During the Recovery

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Beginning in May of , The Hamilton Project has calculated the number of jobs needed to return to the national employment rate prior to the Great Recession, accounting for population growth and aging.


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This indicates that, by our calculations, nearly a full decade after the start of the recession, employment has returned to its demographically adjusted pre-recession level. This does not mean that all harm to the labor market resulting from the Great Recession has dissipated, nor that the economy is at full employment. It does mean, though, that the economy has added enough jobs to make up for the losses during the Great Recession. Because the population was growing while the labor market was shedding jobs, the trough of the jobs gap more than 10 million jobs needed to recover to pre-recession employment rates exceeded the actual decline in number of jobs about 8.

The average rate of recovery in the jobs gap after the trough of the Great Recession was thousand jobs per month, and it took 89 months to close the gap. To be sure, the closing of the jobs gap does not mean that the labor market scars of the Great Recession are entirely healed. Indeed, while some economic markers indicate a tight labor market— a low unemployment rate and relatively abundant job openings —others, like the depressed to year-old employment rate , an elevated share of people working part-time for economic reasons , and restrained wage growth , are consistent with a weaker labor market.

The decline in the employment-to-population ratio for 25 to 54 year olds has been offset to some degree by rising employment rates for those 55 and older, helping to close the jobs gap. However, much of this drop was due to demographic change, and a slight reduction in the unemployment rate over that period helped to mitigate the impact on employment.

The 2015 job market: Continuing recovery, ongoing problems

Appendix A provides additional detail regarding the economic forces underlying movement in the jobs gap. In figure 2, we apply the jobs gap methodology to three other recent recessions: , , and Compared to these recessions, the jobs gap during the Great Recession was much larger and took years longer to close. The recessions of and involved smaller and briefer jobs gaps, with recovery to the demographically adjusted, pre-recession employment rate after 40 and 48 months, respectively.

The recession saw a more gradual decline in jobs, and a slower recovery; the jobs gap from the recession did not close before the Great Recession started. The labor market recoveries depicted in figures 1 and 2 reflect the overall experience of the entire United States. However, not all regions of the country or demographic groups experienced the same recovery—while some groups have reached and substantially exceeded their pre-recession employment rates, others have lagged behind.

These data are less current than the payroll data—we use individual-level data through May —and the growth in employment measured in the CPS is somewhat lower.

The long-run impact of the Great Recession was particularly uneven across regions of the country, leaving some states with larger employment rate gaps than others. Figure 3 shows the employment rate gap by state, giving a sense of which places have prospered relative to their baseline and which have not. To account for varying population levels and changes across states, we calculate the gap as the difference between the actual state employment rate and the demographically adjusted state employment rate.

States shown in light green have reached or exceeded the demographically adjusted employment rates that prevailed before the Great Recession, while purple states continue to face employment rate gaps of varying sizes. States in the Northeast and Midwest have seen particularly strong job growth, adjusting for demographic change; for example, Massachusetts has closed its gap and added 1.

Some of the largest remaining gaps are observed in Western states, where Wyoming has the largest employment rate gap of Importantly, these differences may reflect differences in population growth and migration across the states. The employment rate gap recovery has been uneven in other respects: notably, women have outperformed men. Two male-dominated occupation groups— production and construction —were particularly hard hit during the Great Recession.

Employment in these occupations remains low relative to other occupations, contributing to weaker employment growth for men over the last ten years. In addition, the employment rate of men aged 25 to 54 had been falling for several decades prior to the Great Recession, driven by forces that are still not entirely understood, but possibly contributing to the disparities between the employment trajectories of men and women. Figure 4 shows the employment rate gap separately for men and women. The immediate employment loss from the recession was somewhat less severe for women, with the gap reaching a trough of By contrast, the employment rate gap for men reached a low point of Men have considerably more ground to make up than do women to regain their pre-recession employment rate: the gap for men stands at However, it is important to note that men remain employed at a much higher rate than women, even with their relative decline over the past ten years: The disparate labor market experiences of racial groups over the business cycle have recently received additional deserved attention.

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In figure 5, we show that, while whites were less hard hit in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession than blacks and Hispanics, their recovery has been slower; whites are now in a worse position relative to their pre-recession employment rates than are blacks and Hispanics. At the same time, more baby boomers have entered retirement, somewhat offsetting the effects of population growth and reducing the number of jobs needed for a full economic recovery. Beginning in May of , The Hamilton Project has calculated the number of jobs needed to return to the national employment rate prior to the Great Recession, accounting for population growth and aging.

This indicates that, by our calculations, nearly a full decade after the start of the recession, employment has returned to its demographically adjusted pre-recession level. This does not mean that all harm to the labor market resulting from the Great Recession has dissipated, nor that the economy is at full employment.

It does mean, though, that the economy has added enough jobs to make up for the losses during the Great Recession. Because the population was growing while the labor market was shedding jobs, the trough of the jobs gap more than 10 million jobs needed to recover to pre-recession employment rates exceeded the actual decline in number of jobs about 8. The average rate of recovery in the jobs gap after the trough of the Great Recession was thousand jobs per month, and it took 89 months to close the gap.

To be sure, the closing of the jobs gap does not mean that the labor market scars of the Great Recession are entirely healed.

Chart Book: The Legacy of the Great Recession

Indeed, while some economic markers indicate a tight labor market— a low unemployment rate and relatively abundant job openings —others, like the depressed to year-old employment rate , an elevated share of people working part-time for economic reasons , and restrained wage growth , are consistent with a weaker labor market. The decline in the employment-to-population ratio for 25 to 54 year olds has been offset to some degree by rising employment rates for those 55 and older, helping to close the jobs gap.

However, much of this drop was due to demographic change, and a slight reduction in the unemployment rate over that period helped to mitigate the impact on employment. Appendix A provides additional detail regarding the economic forces underlying movement in the jobs gap. In figure 2, we apply the jobs gap methodology to three other recent recessions: , , and Compared to these recessions, the jobs gap during the Great Recession was much larger and took years longer to close.

New York’s Uneven Economic Recovery : Empire Center for Public Policy

The recessions of and involved smaller and briefer jobs gaps, with recovery to the demographically adjusted, pre-recession employment rate after 40 and 48 months, respectively. The recession saw a more gradual decline in jobs, and a slower recovery; the jobs gap from the recession did not close before the Great Recession started.

UN finds pace of global economic recovery too slow to spur job growth

The labor market recoveries depicted in figures 1 and 2 reflect the overall experience of the entire United States. However, not all regions of the country or demographic groups experienced the same recovery—while some groups have reached and substantially exceeded their pre-recession employment rates, others have lagged behind. These data are less current than the payroll data—we use individual-level data through May —and the growth in employment measured in the CPS is somewhat lower.

The long-run impact of the Great Recession was particularly uneven across regions of the country, leaving some states with larger employment rate gaps than others. Figure 3 shows the employment rate gap by state, giving a sense of which places have prospered relative to their baseline and which have not.

The Jobs gap has closed

To account for varying population levels and changes across states, we calculate the gap as the difference between the actual state employment rate and the demographically adjusted state employment rate. States shown in light green have reached or exceeded the demographically adjusted employment rates that prevailed before the Great Recession, while purple states continue to face employment rate gaps of varying sizes.

States in the Northeast and Midwest have seen particularly strong job growth, adjusting for demographic change; for example, Massachusetts has closed its gap and added 1. Some of the largest remaining gaps are observed in Western states, where Wyoming has the largest employment rate gap of Importantly, these differences may reflect differences in population growth and migration across the states. The employment rate gap recovery has been uneven in other respects: notably, women have outperformed men.

Two male-dominated occupation groups— production and construction —were particularly hard hit during the Great Recession. Employment in these occupations remains low relative to other occupations, contributing to weaker employment growth for men over the last ten years. In addition, the employment rate of men aged 25 to 54 had been falling for several decades prior to the Great Recession, driven by forces that are still not entirely understood, but possibly contributing to the disparities between the employment trajectories of men and women.

Figure 4 shows the employment rate gap separately for men and women. The immediate employment loss from the recession was somewhat less severe for women, with the gap reaching a trough of By contrast, the employment rate gap for men reached a low point of Men have considerably more ground to make up than do women to regain their pre-recession employment rate: the gap for men stands at However, it is important to note that men remain employed at a much higher rate than women, even with their relative decline over the past ten years: The disparate labor market experiences of racial groups over the business cycle have recently received additional deserved attention.