The labor market started out 2013 in a lackluster fashion, adding 157,000 jobs. This was below the revised 2012 average of 181,000 jobs added per month. This is certainly not the rapid employment growth needed to drive down unemployment. It’s like we’re in Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” – each month we wake up to the same report, with all the indicators – employment, unemployment, labor force participation, hours, wages – painting the same picture over and over.
We are still in a crisis-level jobs hole. The U.S. labor market started 2013 with fewer jobs than it had 7 years ago in January 2006, even though the potential workforce has grown by over 8 million since then. The jobs deficit is so large that at January’s growth rate, it would take until 2021 to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate.