Quick Takes | Jobs and Unemployment

The Job Market Is Muddling Along

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The jobs report released this morning showed 175,000 jobs were added in February, bringing the average of the last twelve months to 180,000. This is slightly higher than what forecasters were expecting, but for the American workforce, this is not good news at all—at this pace, it will take more than five years to get back to pre-recession labor market conditions. (For context: To get back to pre-recession labor market conditions in three years, we would need to add 280,000 jobs per month.) Today’s report shows that the labor market is doing no more than muddling along.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7 percent in February. However, if the 5.7 million missing workers—workers who are neither employed nor actively seeking work due to weak job opportunities in the aftermath of the Great Recession—were in the labor force looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 10.0 percent instead of 6.7 percent. The share of the unemployed who have been unemployed for more than six months has been generally creeping down in the last two-and-a-half years but increased in February from 35.8 percent to 37.0 percent. This share remains far higher than the peak in any prior recession, which was 26.0 percent for one month in 1983.

See more work by Heidi Shierholz