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Current job losses worse than in past recessions

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Snapshot for November 13, 2002.

Current job losses worse than in past recessions

Job growth has been particularly disappointing in the current recession. In fact, instead of growing, private sector payroll employment has fallen by 1,825,000, or 1.6%, since October 2000, the month when unemployment began to rise. As the figure below shows, this is a slightly greater decline than in the “jobless recovery” of the early 1990s which, at this point in the recovery, had seen a private payroll decline of 1,400,000, or 1.5%. In contrast, private payrolls were nearly 1,300,000 higher at this point in the early 1980s recession.

Private payroll employment trends

Despite the disappointing job losses in this recession, the unemployment rate has risen less than in earlier recessions. This is partly due to the slow growth of the labor force (the number of new workers) that the economy needs to absorb. In the first two years of the current recession the labor force grew by just 2.1 million, far fewer than the 2.9 and 5.1 million growth, respectively, in the early 1990s and early 1980s recessions.

This week’s Snapshot by EPI president Lawrence Mishel.

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