Friday, October 19, 2012
Specialist in Labor Economics
Congress in recent years passed a number of bills intended in part to jump-start a recovery in the labor market from the recession that began in December 2007. Members are interested in the labor market’s response to these measures to help them decide how well the legislation has worked and whether additional job-creation legislation may be warranted in light of the pace and composition of job growth since the recession’s end in June 2009. Accordingly, employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is analyzed in this report from December 2007 to September 2012 (the latest month for which data were available at the time of the report’s preparation).
A “jobless recovery” prevailed across firms in the private nonfarm sector until March 2010. That is to say, the number of private-sector jobs generally continued to fall until nine months into the recovery. The recovery was jobless until October 2010, 16 months into the recovery, across all employers in the public and private sectors of the nonfarm economy. At that point, net job growth in the overall economy began not because public-sector employment started to rise but because it fell more slowly while private-sector employment continued to grow. Given the pace of job growth during the recovery, a few more years will likely elapse before the approximately 7.5 million jobs lost during the recession are recouped.
The two industries hardest hit by the recession—manufacturing and construction—have been recovering at very different rates. In 2011, manufacturing employment surpassed its level at the recession’s end. In 2012, construction employment remains over 400,000 jobs below its level in June 2009. Some of the states with the most depressed housing markets as well as manufacturingdependent states have been especially slow to recover (e.g., Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio).
During the recession, women lost relatively fewer jobs than men in part because the construction and manufacturing industries predominantly employ men. During the recovery, women have gained relatively fewer jobs than men in part because women are a substantial presence in the occupations (e.g., teachers) that account for much of the local and state government workforces.
The oldest and youngest workers have fared quite differently since December 2007. Workers aged 55 and older experienced job growth during the recession and recovery. The youngest age group (16- to 19-year olds) experienced the largest percentage declines in employment during the recession and recovery.
The employment of Hispanic workers returned fairly quickly to its level at the recession’s start, despite the ethnic group’s concentration in the hard-hit construction industry. Hispanic employment also is concentrated in the leisure and hospitality industry group, which had recouped all its job losses by early 2012.
The lower a worker’s educational attainment, the worse they typically fared. As of September 2012, workers with less than 12 years of schooling or with a high school diploma at most did not regain all the jobs they lost since the recession’s onset. In contrast, employment among workers with postsecondary education was higher in September 2012 than in December 2007.
Date of Report: October 16, 2012
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: R41434
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