Friday, February 6, 2009

The long road down

The January jobs report was released this week. As David Leonhardt explains, it's not filled with good news:

The government said that 385,000 more jobs were lost last year than it had initially estimated. That brings the total loss since December 2007 to 3.6 million jobs. To put that in some perspective, here are the worst employment losses, as a share of the work force, over the last 40 years:

1981-82: 3.1 percent
1974-75: 2.8 percent
Current (2007-09): 2.6 percent

Keep in mind that the numbers for those earlier recessions describe the absolute low point of the job market. The losses in this recession aren’t yet over — and may, in fact, be a long way from over.
That last part is important. Right now, we're still doing better than in the early 1980s (and much better than the 1930s), but the real question is: where are we going? Many economists think we've got a long way to go.

Things certainly have changed over the past 16 years:

(HT: Paul Krugman)

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