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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

September 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM

The jobs report: Getting better, but a long way to go

Top of the News: The Labor Day weekend slouches in with the highest unemployment rate, 9.7 percent, since 1983. This recession, the longest of the post World War II era, has claimed nearly 7 million jobs.

A total of nearly 15 million Americans are out of work. Add in the underemployed — part-timers seeking fulltime work and discouraged workers — and the number swells to an astounding 26.4 million.

Economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the federal stimulus is saving or creating between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs a month. Before the stim began to kick in, in the first quarter, the economy was losing about 700,000 jobs a month — Depression velocity. The past three months, the losses have moderated to 318,000 jobs per month.

Still, according to Shierholz, “This recession continues to shatter all records related to length of unemployment spells. Currently, 5 million workers have been jobless for over six months.” People out of work aren’t finding many new jobs.

African-Americans are hardest hit, with 15.1 percent unemployment in August; Hispanics suffered 13 percent and whites nearly 9 percent. Workers between 16 and 24 are turning in a jobless rate of 18.2 percent, an increase of 6.6 percentage points since the recession’s start.

“To keep up with population growth, the economy needs to add approximately 127,000 jobs every month,” Shierholz reminds, “which translates into 2.5 million jobs over the 20 months of the recession.” The result: the nation has 9.4 million fewer jobs than where it would need to be to hold up the pre-recession unemployment rate.

Meanwhile, the labor force has grown by 12.1 million since March 2000. But the economy has fewer jobs today than it did at that time. Happy Labor Day.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Did oil grease the skids,

Free the Lockerbie bomber?

BP IOU?

THIS WEEK’S HAIKU POLL:

Vote for your favorite doggerel of the week — or write your own in the comments section

What’s your favorite haiku?(polls)

Tuesday:

Bernanke take two

The first chapter was scary

Bank on more to come

Wednesday:

Recession’s over?

I’d celebrate but my job

Is over as well

Thursday:

We say subsidy

Airbus calls it investment

Buses are smelly

Friday:

Did oil grease the skids,

Free the Lockerbie bomber?

BP IOU?

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment, Working America

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