Comparing This Recession to Previous Ones: Job Changes

By CATHERINE RAMPELL

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chart by Amanda Cox.

Horizontal axis shows months. Vertical axis shows the ratio of that month’s nonfarm payrolls to the nonfarm payrolls at the start of recession. Note: Because employment is a lagging indicator, the dates for these employment trends are not exactly synchronized with National Bureau of Economic Research’s official business cycle dates.

The economy lost 54,000 jobs in August, driven primarily by the elimination of 114,000 temporary Census Bureau positions. Additionally, state and local governments eliminated 10,000 jobs last month.

In the private sector, payrolls increased by 67,000 in August, a modest gain over total private payrolls in July.

The chart above shows job changes in this recession compared with recent ones, with the black line representing the current downturn. The line has risen since last year, but still has a long way to go before the job market fully recovers to its pre-recession level. Since the downturn began in December 2007, the economy has shed, on net, about 5.5 percent of its nonfarm payroll jobs. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that the working-age population has continued to grow, meaning that if the economy were healthy we should have more jobs today than we had before the recession.

The unemployment rate (measured by a different government survey, and based on how many people are without jobs but are looking for work) was relatively unchanged at 9.6 percent in August, from 9.5 percent in July.

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About Uy Do

Banking System Analyst, former NTT data Global Marketing Dept Senior Analyst, Banking System Risk Specialist, HR Specialist
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