Quick Takes | Jobs and Unemployment

Employment, hours worked, and wages flatline

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The labor market sputtered in November as employment, hours worked, and wages all flat-lined, and unemployment rose to 9.8%. The unemployment rate for people with a college degree, at 5.1%, is the highest it has been in 40 years. The hoped-for progress in the labor market is not materializing.
The surprisingly bleak report also hits another grim benchmark – at 19 months, this downturn now matches the longest stretch since WWII with an unemployment rate of 9.0% or higher. In the recession that began in 1981, the unemployment rate was at 9.0% or over for exactly 19 months. At the tail end of those 19 months, however, the unemployment rate was already falling fast.
Today’s situation stands in stark contrast, with the unemployment rate expected to remain at over 9% through at least 2011. –Heidi Shierholz


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