Since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, the American economy has added nearly 5.6 million jobs. Yet that hasn’t been nearly enough to fill the hole left by the recession. The United States still has 1.9 million fewer jobs than the 138 million it had when the recession officially began in December 2007.
If hiring continued at August’s 169,000-job monthly pace, the job market wouldn’t return to pre-recession levels for almost another year.
And that’s before taking population growth into account. Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, calculates that the U.S. job market is 8.3 million jobs short of where it needs to be to keep up with a growing population and reduce unemployment to pre-recession levels.
But job creation seems to be slowing. From January through April this year, employers added a robust 205,000 jobs a month. In the four months since, they’ve added only 155,000.
“Job gains are just not good enough,” says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.
The jobs the economy is generating this year have tended to be low-paying, part-time or both. More than 654,000 — or 45 percent — of the 1.44 million jobs added this year come from three generally low-paying industries: department stores and other retailers; hotels and restaurants; and temporary services.
And nearly 60 percent of the jobs added this year have been part-time, though economists caution that the part-time employment figures are volatile.
The lower quality of the available jobs is one reason pay has stagnated. The average hourly earnings of private-sector employers haven’t kept up with inflation since the end of the recession.
“More and more, America’s jobs are not supporting America’s families,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, which advocates on behalf of low-wage workers.