Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Quality Lags

The Wall Street Journal ran a front page article by Eric Morath in last weekend's issue 

Jobs Return To Peak, but Quality Lags

"The U.S. finally clawed back all the jobs lost since the recession hit in late 2007, a watershed in a grindingly slow recovery that finds a labor market still in many ways weaker now than before the downturn."

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"Despite signs of sustained strength, the job market is a far cry from what it was before the financial crisis slammed the economy in 2008. The number of jobs in manufacturing, construction and government  typically well-paying fields  has shrunk, while lower-wage work grew. The U.S. has 1.6 million fewer manufacturing jobs than when the recession began, but 941,000 more jobs in the accommodation and food-service sector. More than 40% of the jobs added in just the past year have come in generally lower-paying fields such as food service, retail and temporary help."

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"When adjusted for inflation, Americans' earnings are little changed since the recovery started in mid-2009. And the share of Americans participating in the labor force, 62.8% in May  down from 66.2% at the start of 2008  is near its lowest level since the late 1970s. The number of adults not in the labor force grew by more than 13 million since the start of the recession."

"The economy took more than six years to recover its previous peak level of employment  almost double the length of the jobs rebound that began in 2001, the next-slowest recovery since World War II."

"The jobless rate is down 1.2 percentage points from a year earlier, typically a sign of an improving labor market. But the growth in jobs is not keeping up with the population gains. And at least part of the decline in the jobless rate is due to some Americans giving up looking for work."

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One of the charts in the article shows that even though the total number of jobs has returned to pre-crash levels, there are now five million fewer of the "typically well-paying" jobs than existed before the 2007-08 meltdown. A true transformation in progress. The downsizing of the middle class by five million wage earners  with at least another five million non-working dependents, sliding along with them wherever they slide. In six years, ten million subtracted from the middle income people, ten million added to the low-income people.

Poster at top publicizes services for San Francisco renters faced with eviction.