Not really, but that's cold comfort if you need a job

| Republicans are unanimously convinced that "Obamanomics is a failure" and they trumpet that talking point at every opportunity. The same people who in January and February wrung their hands and gnashed their teeth about the economic stimulus package, decrying the deficits it required, and calling it "The Generational Theft Act of 2009" ( Now those same Chicken Littles (I can actually think of a better two-word term that begins with "chicken") are complaining that there aren't enough jobs being created, "and it's all Obama's fault."

There's truth in that — there aren't enough jobs being created — but that it's Obama's fault is plain political slander.

It's unconscionable that there are so many unemployed and underemployed but the historical fact is that unemployment does not begin to fall until after a recession ends. A nice chart that arrived in my inbox yesterday shows it clearly:


A reasonable public servant would take every opportunity to explain this historical pattern and also take every possible measure to lesson the pain until hiring picks back up again. The politicians in Washington are a lot of things, but "reasonable" is not one of the adjectives that comes easily to mind. We all have our favorite perjorative.

However, there is something in that chart that is very worrisome: Before the 1990s, unemployment peaked just at the end of the recessions; since then, there has been a widening gap between the end of recession and the peak in unemployment. That's very ominous: if you're without a job, a "jobless recovery" ain't no kind of recovery, no how.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

If I were an economist, I'd be investigating whether the delay in employment recovery is due to the loss of manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "more than 3 out of every 10 new jobs created in the U.S. economy [2006-2016] will be in either the healthcare and social assistance or public and private educational services sectors." It's all well and good to talk about job retraining, but turning a welder into a nurse, social worker, or teacher is easier said than done. The underlying problem, I suspect, is that the kinds of jobs that can easily ramp up and absorb the unemployed have all been shipped overseas. And if that's the case, now what?

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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