Labor Market Back to 2008 Pre-Crisis Peak — Finally

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You know what they say about slow and steady? It’s seems to be a fitting analogy for the U.S. economy, post-financial crisis.

The job market hit a major milestone in March, as it finally recovered all of the private-sector jobs lost during the recession. Overall, 192,000 jobs were added in March, but the unemployment rate remains at 6.7 percent.

So the private-sector labor market is now back to its pre-recession peak, which hardly seems worthy of applause, once you think about it. The Associated Press said it’s really an indication of the long road ahead.

Businesses and nonprofits shed 8.8 million jobs during the 2007-09 recession; they have since hired 8.9 million. But because the population has grown since the big downturn, most analysts were hardly celebrating the milestone.

Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, called it a “pretty meaningless benchmark economically. The potential labor force is growing all the time, so the private sector should have added millions of jobs over the last six-plus years.”

CareerBuilder said the jobs added in March include the following:

  • Professional and business services — 57,000.
  • Restaurants and bars — 30,000.

Construction, mining and logging, and health care also experienced notable hiring improvements.

CNN Money said the jobs recovery has been “the slowest on record since the Labor Department started tracking the data in 1939.”

The March job figures did suggest that better days are coming. There were more people looking for jobs, including previously discouraged workers, and paychecks seem to be growing, the AP said.

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  • bigpinch

    Another telling statistic is the growth in the use and cost of Food Stamps. In 2008, the cost of the Food Stamp program to U.S. tax payers was $34.8 billion. In 2012 the cost had grown to $74.6 billion, according to the USDA. It is reasonable to assume that if full-time, good paying jobs lost in the 2007-2009 had seen a significant recovery, the tax money spent on food stamps would have decreased instead of almost doubling.
    The 2014 Farm Bill, signed a couple of weeks ago, provides nearly $100 billion for food stamps. This while reducing the per-person eligibility for the benefit and being touted in the Press as a reduction of $8.6 billion over the next ten years. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he didn’t expect that the cut of about 1 percent to the food stamp budget would have a significant impact. And the band played on.

  • I.Popoff

    U.S. population: 317,000,000. Number of foreign born here legally: 37,000,000. Number of new legal immigrants annually: over 1,000,000. You do the math.

    • bigpinch

      I’m not sure I’m following. Sure, illegal immigration suppresses wages at the lower end of the spectrum but legal immigration tends to (and I believe, under normal circumstances, does) improve the economy. Most legal immigrants bring skills with them. They tend to create, not consume wealth.
      Thirty-five years ago, I helped run a crew of illegal Mexican immigrants on a construction site. They were part of a pool of illegals that came up from Mexico every year. They were paid fairly, housed reasonably, and cared for humanely. They were here because they couldn’t get enough work (carpentry, painting, landscaping) in Mexico and (at the time) we couldn’t hire enough local folks to do the work, the local economy booming like it was. Anybody who had a work ethic already had a job.
      It made sense to me at the time but it was a different time. I wouldn’t do it now.

      • Sarah

        The problem, bigpinch, is remittances through which both illegal and legal immigrants siphon their earnings off of our consumerism based economy by sending it home out of country is killing our economic growth. Instead of the money staying here and being put back into the economy it’s leaving and not coming back. We prop up 24 other countries in this manner and we still haven’t recovered. We are killing our own country while ignoring the fact we must change the way our economy works in order to remain economically solvent. We can’t continue this as it’s unsustainable and will eventually lead to riots or a complete revolt. What happens if graduates like myself just suddenly stopped paying my student loans? Why should I be forced to prop up banks too big too fail when I can’t find one lousy job that hasn’t hired either an illegal immigrant or foreign worker because they’re cheaper than a US citizen? There’s $1.3 TRILLION dollars that will be stopped dead. At least half now are not paying due to the fact they can’t find jobs that pay. Does this resonate with anyone else?

        This should worry a lot of people because the more graduates I talk to are starting to think this is the only way they’ll be heard. Let’s stop throwing away US citizens who are perfectly capable of doing the work just because they have to make ends meet on a realistic salary/wage. We’re cutting our own legs off at the knees and still think we’re going to remain an industrial leader. The fact is we’re behind our allies and competitors in all of the areas that count now. When are we going to wake up? I’ll wager when it’s too late.

        You helped the problem get worse because most employers use the same tired excuse you did, whining about the locals not being interested. We have bills to pay and I can’t work for a parasite who complains that their work is “beneath” me. I have no problem doing any job as long as I can pay my bills. If you do the simple math most people will pass over jobs that won’t even cover the cost of gas to go to and from work. If WELFARE pays on average more than $15/hr in at least a dozen states people see no point in working hard because employers today hate the younger generations. If you won’t pay a living wage/salary you’re shooting yourself in both of your own feet because lower wages equal lower taxes. Not only that it’s worse than ever to juggle a part time job at all. Employers want you to work when they feel like you should, not when you actually can if you’re lucky enough to have two minimum wage jobs with a college degree.

        Graduates can’t be taxed on lower wages and that means fewer funds for those looking to retire like fat cats on welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They’ll have to raise the retirement age and cut back on benefits because of this. They won’t admit it in public though but my generation is getting royally screwed by the elderly. It’s ridiculous how this country is falling apart and the generation that had nothing to do with writing laws, repealing acts (like Glass-Steagall) that would have prevented this, are actually being blamed for what the elderly are doing in Congress and Senate.

        I don’t give to charities/churches or go to church, I don’t volunteer and when people chastise me for this I have the same thing to say every time.

        I have to pay back my student loans or go to jail. Criticize me all you want, I’m putting myself first from now on. I’m too poor to be charitable but instead of offering help you blame me and still demand my money. Then I walk off. I’m so sick of being blamed for other people’s problems when I can barely make ends meet. I should start a charity I suppose, you get tax free money and pay nothing at all. There are so many charity and church scams out there I suppose I should have studied “theology” to rob people legally. Why should I donate to some worthless mega-cult so some preacher parasite can get new blades for his helicopter? Because people are sheep, that’s why.

        • bigpinch

          Somehow, I doubt you were alive 35 years ago, so I’ll give you a pass on that. You really don’t have anyway to appreciate how easy life in Central Texas was, back then. I rented a 3-bedroom house in South Austin for less than $100 a month. Because I belonged to a food co-op, my grocery bill was around $20.00 a month and utilities (gas and electric) were about $15.00. I was in my 20’s. I owned a car but, as I was young, I preferred the bus or the Shoe Leather Express.
          No, I wasn’t whining about local citizens being unwilling to work for $20.00 a day, housing, and meals. I was describing the reality of that time. Things are different, now. The economics in Mexico were worse, then, than they are now. We got their skilled labor at a bargain and all of those men were able to feed their families back in Mexico. They weren’t happy about having to come here but staying there was worse. As bad as our economy is, now, I wouldn’t run such a crew, today.
          Eighteen years ago, as age and illness began to limit what I could do, physically, I decided that I needed to get a college education in the medical field. Due to my and my wife’s disabilities, I took out student loans amounting to about $50,000.00. I graduated from the University of Texas in 2002 about the time that the shit hit our economic fan. I was 49 years old. I haven’t found suitable employment since, so, like you, I have a considerable student debt to service.
          You will not go to jail if you don’t pay back your student loan. We have no debtors’ prisons in the United States. What will happen is that your credit worthiness will be trashed and that will cause you trouble when you try to rent a house, buy a house, buy a car, get a good job, etc. etc. so, keep paying that debt service. Employers today do not hate the younger workers. That is a fantasy and an excuse you’ll be better off getting rid of. Most employers don’t want to pay me more than $10/hr., either.
          I’m sorry to hear that you neither go to church or give to charities. I recommend both. A personal relationship with God is more important than money, believe it or not. Personal relationships with God aren’t had by joining some mega-cult or following some person with an out-sized ego. Like anything worth having a personal relationship with God takes hard work.
          Finding something to give to somebody else, whether a thithe to the church, time to the church, or some volunteer organization, will work the magic of making you feel better off than you think you are, right now. Try it. Seriously. May God bless you because it is doubtful that anyone else in the world will; they have their own problems.

      • I.Popoff

        You’re right. This is a different time. Time for a time-out on immigration. Every day I encounter people not born here holding good middle class jobs, while fellow Americans born here remain unemployed. Immigrants very often are given a helping hand by church groups, government agencies and those who like the warm glow they get from being the big, generous American, happy to share America’s way of life. What they don’t want to admit or recognize is that their big heartedness is negatively impacting other Americans, their fellow citizens whom they are turning a blind eye to.

        • bigpinch

          I’m 100% with you when it comes to illegal immigration. It has to be stopped, in as much as possible, which isn’t being done now. But I still think that we need to attract the most talented people in the world, the best at whatever it is that they do. It only raises the quality of the high-end labor pool and we all benefit when that happens.
          I know that I got the short end of Affirmative Action when it was implemented in the 1970’s. Yes, arguably, some people who had been disadvantaged because of race got a boost up and that was, generally, a good thing, but, specifically, it was carried out to its absurd end where people who were less qualified for the jobs got hired while those who would have been better candidates got turned down, didn’t get hired.
          Well, the same thing holds if you use, “country of origin” instead of race as a filter for hiring talent. If a candidate for a job is determined by skills and abilities to be the best choice, WHO CARES, what country he or she is from? If they can move here and be a good civic citizen we all gain from having the best talent in the right place.
          Fifteen years ago, I took a class at UT about immigration that has informed my opinion on the matter. There have been several mistakes made in immigration policy over the course of several decades but the H-1B Visa program isn’t one of them.

          • I.Popoff

            The numbers coming here under the H-B1 Visa program are relatively few in number, are not granted citizenship under this program, and their relatives cannot work here. I’m talking about the million and half per year coming here seeking citizenship and competing for jobs at all levels with Americans. It makes no sense except to those with the narrow view that unending growth of population is necessary to fuel our economic machine and the more here the merrier. I happen to believe that concept has outlived it’s validity, if it ever had any, and is leading to a decrease in the quality of life for the average American.

          • bigpinch

            You’re right, they aren’t granted citizenship under the H-B1 visa program, per se, but it is a step in that direction.
            In the absence of a definitive study that shows that foreign born professionals displace native born professionals, I guess it comes down to a matter of opinion and conjecture whether they do. But I did read a Forbes article that said that the annual pay differential between foreign and native born professionals was only about $3,000.00.
            I also think that, since private sector employers are in the business of making a profit for the propagation of their businesses and the satisfaction of their stockholders, if native born talent was superior to the imported article, there wouldn’t be any more foreign-born professionals than would be profitable for them (the employers). Which kind of obviates the need for any such study since “the proof is in the pudding,” so to speak.
            Private sector American employers are not going to hire foreign-born workers out of some perversity of attitude but based solely on who can make them money. I can’t address the issue as regards the public sector. Government is liable to do anything whether it makes sense or not.

          • I.Popoff

            You keep speaking of high tech workers and I am saying that the millions coming here are competing with average Americans for jobs at all levels. As far as business success being paramount to all other considerations, which is what you seem to believe, Benjamin Franklin said “He who puts country before commerce is a patriot. He who puts commerce before country is a traitor.” In my opinion putting foreigners before Americans is being a traitor.

          • bigpinch

            Well, I would appreciate your citing Benjamin Franklin’s quote so that I can read it in context. My “Poor Richard’s” is on loan. So, our argument comes to the question of whether it is an act of treason to hire any foreign-born worker for any reason. In my opinion it is no such thing. And here, I will repair to the main-stream media’s position of refusing to make a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants since you seem to be coming from the same place.
            Thirty-five years ago, I didn’t perceive illegal immigration as being enough of an issue to break a sweat over. Now I do. I am dead set against it.
            Even in our worst economic straits, I think that an orderly and regulated immigration program is important not only for native-born selves but for the rest of the world. Even at our worst we are still a better place to live, at the end of the day, than anywhere else and for all the bad press we get, even from the snotty and self-righteous American press, people from around the world are willing to die trying to get here…”or what’s a heaven for?”

          • I.Popoff

            Our branches of government exist to serve and protect the interests of the American people. Our laws and policies must reflect those interests. When those interests are set aside to benefit a corporation, a special interest group foreign or domestic, or to uphold some fuzzy, altruistic, feel-good notion of what this country is suppose to represent to the world, then government is not doing it’s job. You defend our overly generous immigration quota on the basis of such a fuzzy notion. Although my statement was extreme, I didn’t say it was an act of treason to hire any foreigner for any reason. To further elucidate, it is wrong to give hiring preference to a foreigner over one of your countrymen. If the Franklin quote is not accurate, shame on me for not verifying my source.

          • bigpinch

            I would not be so quick to dismiss as America’s inspiration to the aspirations of the millions of people who’ve sought refuge from tyranny and the realization of freedom as, “some fuzzy, altruistic, feel-good notion.” There are a couple of hundred years of world history that would say otherwise. Personally encountering some of these people, both at home and abroad, and visiting places like Oradour-sur-Glane focuses the issue and removes the fuzzy edges from the notion however lyrically it might be expressed.
            This country has had a defacto immigration policy that is overly generous but the policy on the books is not, in my opinion. I don’t personally know of any native-born person who has been passed over or let go from employment in favor of a foreign-born person only because of a country-of-origin issue. You may know someone or the someone may be you. If so, that is illegal but there again is that inconvenient distinction of legal and illegal that you and the main-stream media seem hell-bent on avoiding at all costs.

          • I.Popoff

            A person doesn’t have to have been passed over or let go to miss out on a job because of an immigrant. If there are five job openings and ten applicants, five people are not hired. If some of the successful applicants were immigrants, then in effect, they came over here and took a job from a native born. It’s as simple as that.
            I don’t understand your point about distinguishing between legal and illegal, or why it should matter to me, someone who advocates less immigration of any type. It’s about numbers. With so many people out of work, how does it make sense to bring millions more here during the next few years when our economy is projected to be stagnant? If immigration were a panacea, then our economy should be cooking, as we admit more immigrants than any other country. If you think we should continue this policy on a purely moral level, then I question your common sense.
            A few years ago Intelligence Squared held a debate on the question of a moratorium on immigration. This was broadcast on radio and later televised. The large audience was polled before and after the debate as to which side they supported. At the conclusion, the pro-moratorium debaters had converted 30% more of the audience to their side, and were declared the winners.
            Personally, I am also very concerned that the world population is exploding through the roof and we are already reaping the negative consequences to our environment. Responsible policy makers would start thinking of ways to keep our population in check, at least in our own country, where currently the only significant population increase is the result of high immigration levels. Half the world is Asian and they are the greatest portion of immigration to Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Have an open borders policy and before long you will have so many people here you won’t have room to bend over and kiss yourself good bye.

          • bigpinch

            The U.S. has a de facto open borders policy. If a country has an enforced, legal, immigration policy, then the integration of immigrants into the country is regulated in a more or less orderly fashion and some of the issues you are concerned about aren’t nearly as problematic.

            The social and economic problems created by illegal immigration are myriad and are presently out of control. That’s the distinction between legal and illegal and why it is important to make the distinction.

            Legal immigrants are required to learn the language, history, and culture of this country (although, not to the extent they were once required) to obtain citizenship. After they become citizens they are as much Americans before the law as you are and as much as if they were born here.

            When you refuse to make a distinction between legal and illegal and say things like, ” If some of the successful applicants were immigrants, then in effect, they came over here and took a job from a native born. It’s as simple as that” it sounds racist, to put it bluntly.
            Your concerns about population growth and the need for government intervention sound Malthusian. The growth of population in the U.S. has averaged less than 1%, annually, for the last several decades. Hardly a statistic that would make me run screaming into the night.

          • I.Popoff

            My initial comment on this story about the unemployment rate was to suggest that there would not be so many unemployed if not for the huge numbers being allowed to immigrate here. My comment pertained to legal immigration and had nothing to do with illegal immmigration. Your repeated rambling about legal versus illegal immigration is off topic as far as I’m concerned. My example about immmigrants getting jobs that could go to native born might have been clumsy, but it was about numbers and implying it was racist was unwarranted. Yes, legal immigrants are due the same treatment as everyone else, but my original point is still the same: if our immigration system was controlled, (and you admit it is not,) then this would be a time to ratchet back on the numbers coming here. Then possibly the number of job applicants would more nearly match job openings, resulting in less unemployment.

            You can belittle me with your “malthusian” comments, but there are plenty of environmental scientists, agricultural experts, oceanographers and others expressing concern for sustainability as population increases. Since you have become rather insulting this will be my last reply to you.

          • bigpinch

            “Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities, and received funding from many sources. Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States. Later, in the 1920s and 30s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries, including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Sweden. The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rudin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, in Sweden the eugenics program continued until 1975.”
            –From Eugenics on the Wikipedia website. Google, “Eugenics”.
            Just another science that obviously ought not be questioned and by which we should make decisions about other people’s lives when we have the political power to do so.

  • Nick in Mass

    All the “new jobs” were basically minimum wage or poor dollar replacement ie $10/hr replacing $25/hr jobs. The American workers lost out big time. Plus so many people have given up looking for a job and are no longer being counted in the “statistics” which only counts those receiving unemployment benefits instead of counting everyone actually looking for work. It’s pretty telling and a lot scary when 10,000 people apply for 300 low wage jobs every time a new Wal-Mart opens. And no, that is not a made up statistic… very scary indeed…..