Putting the Job Loss Figures Into Perspective (Updated)
I was googling around for historical statistics on job losses prior to going over to the Bureau of Labor Statistics to pull them out for myself when lo! and behold I found a blog, Live Granades, that had done the work for me. Go on over there and take a look at his graphs and tables.
Here’s how he sums things up:
Percentage-wise, our current run doesn’t look that bad. The early 1980s recession was harsh, and these numbers bear out how bad it was. The 1974-1975 recession was also bad, again as is shown by the percent of jobs lost. But even the 1990-91 recession was worse.
And none of those was anything remotely as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930’s when unemployment was running at the 30% level, at least in parts and hysterical talk likening the situation now to the situation then is either unhinged or poorly informed.
As I wrote in my post this morning, I’m concerned but I’m not concerned about the absolute numbers of job losses. I’m worried that these job losses are coming after a prolonged period during which job growth has been quite slow—barely enough to keep up with the natural increase. And much of the growth that took place was in government, education, and health care—all heavily dependent on taxes. After all, the tax revenue must come from somewhere.
I’m also worried about structural job losses in a service-based economy but that’s a topic for another post.
As the authority on such matters, I hereby lay down the law: No, we cannot call it a depression yet. We can only call it a depression when the headline unemployment rate–U3–kisses 12%, or when the headline unemployment rate stays above 10% for 36 consecutive months.