Labor Market Back to 2008 Pre-Crisis Peak — Finally

The private sector has recovered all of the jobs lost in the recession, but it’s not cause for great celebration.

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.

Stacy Johnson

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