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Jon Talton

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

April 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

No, the jobs hole hasn’t been filled

With last Friday’s report that the economy added 192,000 jobs, we have now technically recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession. We’re back to 2008 levels of private-sector employment.

You get a gold star if you said, “but it’s not 2008.” That’s the important “but” that should be in all the headlines.

The working-age population has grown since 2008. Also, government employment remains below levels of six years ago. No wonder 10.5 million people remain out of work and 36 percent have been unemployed for six months or more. Labor-force participation is the lowest since the late 1970s. Some 7.4 million are part-time workers who want full-time jobs.

This has been the slowest jobs recovery since the Labor Department started tracking this data in 1939. The March unemployment rate of 6.7 percent would have been considered recession-level in any other period after World War II.

The result remains a significant jobs gap — tracked here by the Hamilton Project — that we’re nowhere near on track to close.

According to the Brookings Institution’s MetroMonitor, 61 out of 100 metropolitan areas were still below their pre-recession peaks at the end of 2013. Seattle has edged above its previous peak but, again, the labor force has grown.

From recession to recovery, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranks 29 out 100 metros. Tech and energy centers have tended to do well. Sun Belt real-estate plays, not so much (Las Vegas 100; Phoenix 87; Miami 85). Portland came in at a strong N0. 17 overall after a deep fall. Boise was 60.

Would we have performed better if the metro measured was Seattle-Bellevue-Everett? Definitely, given Pierce County’s higher unemployment. But S-B-E is a “metropolitan division,” not a “metropolitan statistical area,” the latter being the ones measured.

If you’re still with me after that paragraph, remember: The economy is growing too slow to fill the jobs gap.

And Don’t Miss: Unemployment shows why we’re getting worse at economic recoveries | Fiscal Times

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Bezos donation

Points out how in Seattle

Stewardship’s catching

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment | Topics: Seattle economy

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