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August 17, 2005

Continuing Labor Market Disappointment

Gene Sperling writes:

Bloomberg Columnists: No one would argue that the 207,000 gain in jobs in July beat both market expectations and was a vast improvement over typical monthly job growth during this recovery. Yet... everyone got so used to dismal job growth... that diminished expectation led many to cheer any report that was into six digits.

Consider the following: during the previous four recoveries that lasted 44 months or longer, job growth averaged 11 percent by this point. With today's workforce, that job growth rate would have meant an average of 285,000 jobs a month. But job growth in this recovery has been a fifth that rate.... I don't claim to fully understand why job growth has been so weak. But we should be willing to acknowledge its weakness and ask... "why is this job recovery weaker than all other job recoveries?"

It would be simplistic and unfair to suggest that the sole cause for such weak job performance is President George W. Bush's economic policies. It would be even more over the top to point to these weak job numbers as proof that Bush's policies are a raging success. What we need is a sober analysis of whether policies are impairing job growth or hindering a job market characterized by stagnant wages, low participation in the labor force and long-term unemployment.... [L]et's at least acknowledge these are not great times for job growth and debate why and what we might do about it.

Posted by DeLong at August 17, 2005 08:39 PM