Depressing Economic Statistic Of The Day

Tyler Cowen digs this rather depressing number out of a post by John Mauldin:

The US has roughly the same number of jobs today as it had in 2000, but the population is well over 30,000,000 larger. To get to a civilian employment-to-population ratio equal to that in 2000, we would have to gain some 18 MILLION jobs.

There’s much more in Mauldin’s piece, which is worth reading as long as you don’t want to depress yourself too much.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Herb says:

    Based on their stellar 10-year record, clearly we need to give the “jobs creators” more tax breaks.

  2. JKB says:

    Perhaps as Adam Smith commented on how Marco Polo described China in almost the same terms as travelers of his time, the United States has “acquired that full complement of riches which the nature of its laws and institutions permits it to acquire.” Of course, he was commenting on the desperate state of the Chinese laborers in that stagnant economy compared the vibrant opportunities available to the English laborer in the growing economy of England at that time.

    Perhaps we’ve built such an overbearing regulatory state that we’ve achieved peak labor?

  3. Racehorse says:

    The news about unemployment isn’t getting better and prices keep going up. Our food expense is about 30% higher than last year. 25% more for a 2 liter soft drink, $4.00 for a bag of potato chips; even fast food is higher. Combine that with the hideous gasoline prices and things are in bad shape and not getting any better. The President and Congress better get on the ball.

  4. john personna says:


    Perhaps we’ve built such an overbearing regulatory state that we’ve achieved peak labor?

    People say that, but at the back of their minds they want to keep the safety regulations (for food, housing, and labor).

    China has $1.5/hr labor and few safety regulations.

    Do you really want to match that?

  5. JKB says:

    @john personna:

    Why do you always assume regulations are an all or nothing situation. Yes, there are some good regulations, if not, we wouldn’t have let the regulators’ noses under the tent. But as with most bureaucrats, they couldn’t stop at bounding the field and sorting out the bad actors. Instead, to keep the bureaucracy funded and growing, they increasingly interfere and micromanage. Often, to the benefit of some connected person or organization.

    Take, for example, the CPSIA, enacted to impose draconian requirements against lead getting into kids’ products. But the law was spurred by Mattel importing poison chinese toys but Mattel is in a situation where meeting the testing requirements is trivial but the thousands of small producers, resellers and others are driven out of business to the advantage of Mattel.

    Capitalism is not pro-business in the since of protecting business. Established businesses hate capitalism as it requires they continue to compete and innovate. So they buy politicians and “help” the regulatory agencies to enact barriers to inhibit competitors. The one thing that is curious is that the corporatists feel so free to operate openly in this administration as opposed to others in recent years.

    So, JP, please stop acting like a 3rd grader. If you’d like to have an adult conversation over the various costs and benefits of regulations, then we might get somewhere but this constant whining about abandoning food or worker safety is counterproductive.

    Also, to correct my statement, we may have reached peak jobs under this regulatory regime with the policies and institutions inhibiting the creation of more jobs even as the labor pool grows. So the question is, can we tax those working enough to keep up those who aren’t in the manner to which they’ve become accustom? Also, what does it mean to society to have so many who will never perform productive work in an open market but know only the whims of government charity?

  6. john personna says:


    My mind boggles. You make some empty argument that regulation blocks jobs, and that’s my problem?

    Name your regs, show how they change the bottom line, how they matter more than the wage differntial.

  7. john personna says:

    BTW, my comment above was:

    “People say that, but at the back of their minds they want to keep the safety regulations (for food, housing, and labor).”

    I guess I should have added “toys,” huh?

    You want lead testing on toys right, you just want it done a bit differently. But while you want that testing, you want to paint the whole set of safety requirements as out of line.

    You did exactly what I said you would.