The 2007–2009 recession has been an employment disaster. In the twenty months from December 2007 (the start of the recession) to August 2009, we have lost more than 7.0 million private-sector jobs.
What makes this even more serious (suggesting deep structural problems) is that this recession follows an economic expansion (November 2001–December 2007) that was one of the weakest in terms of private sector job creation; annual average private sector employment grew by approximately 1 million jobs a year. By comparison, annual average private sector employment grew by 2.4 million jobs a year during the 1982-1990 expansion and by 2.2 million a year during the 1991-2001 expansion.
As a consequence we are set to experience what economists are calling a lost employment decade. “As of August 2009, the nation had 1.3 million (1,256,000) fewer private sector jobs than in December 1999. This is the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s that America will have an absolute loss of jobs over the course of a decade.”
While the media and the government talk about economic recovery because the stock market and profits are up—the employment crisis continues and can be expected to continue for years. And of course these statistics do not take into account the worsening of employment conditions (including the growing number of part-time and temporary positions, intensity of work, and employment insecurity). Real recovery is going to require real structural change and so far that remains off the mainstream political agenda.