For unemployed Americans, there is cause for hope in the most recent statistics showing an increase in jobs in the U.S. labor market. Yet it’s a far cry from relief.
Unemployment figures show the number of job-seekers is down from its highest point during the recession. However, compared to 2007, the number of jobless Americans is still higher than when the economic meltdown began.
In May 2007, prior to the recession, unemployment in the U.S. was at 4.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That percentage reached its highest point in October 2009, when unemployment registered at 10 percent. While May 2013 figures put the unemployment rate at 7.6 percent, it’s still a far cry from the rates seen before the recession.
According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 6 million jobs have been created since the job market hit bottom in 2010. Yet in order to get back to the rates seen before the economic downturn, there’s still quite a ways to go.
The question now is whether the economy can take America back to the days when unemployment figures hovering around 4 percent were considered normal.
“At 175,000 jobs (added to the U.S. economy) per month, we’re years away,” Brookings Institution economist Adam Looney told The Wall Street Journal. “It just sort of speaks to how far we fell during the recession and how slow we’ve been to recover.”
According to an analysis released by the Brookings Institution’s The Hamilton Project, the private sector has increased at a satisfactory rate while the public sector has been hit hard — and is unlikely to bounce back.
“These numbers continue a pattern of steady growth in the labor market, but they also confirm that America’s recovery from the Great Recession is still very much a work in progress,” Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney wrote in The Hamilton Project’s analysis of the issue.
More than 2 million jobs have been created in the private sector in the last year. On the public sector end of the spectrum, growth has been nonexistent — employment in state, local and federal governments has been cut by nearly 90,000 jobs.
“In this challenging economic climate, there is growing concern about how sequestration — the across-the-board budget cuts to discretionary spending that took effect on March 1 — may negatively impact the recovery even more,” Looney and Greenstone wrote.
In a separate report released by The Hamilton Project in 2012, Greenstone and Looney painted the picture of opportunity — or lack thereof — that unemployed Americans are facing.
“The challenges facing today’s unemployed workers are the worst we have experienced since the Great Depression,” the report states. “The probability of finding a job has fallen for workers unemployed for short durations of time, as well as long-durations. Even as the economy begins to recover, it is still harder for unemployed workers to find a job, and it will take them a longer period of time.”
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