Friday, January 6, 2012

Civilian Unemployment: Persistence

Today the Civilian Unemployment numbers were released and all they did was verify one thing- that recoveries in the United States since 1990 have been jobless ones.  Check out the following graph which takes every post WW2 recession and averages their numbers from peak to 27 months out. Notice that this one has the greatest persistence of all of them in terms of a high unemployment rate.

Additionally check out the next graph which just uses the recessions from 1990 and beyond. These are all the recessions that have been characterized by jobless recoveries. The thing to notice here is not the level of the unemployment rate, but that in these recoveries the unemployment rate also failed to drop significantly 27 months or so after the peak.  This recession has been deeper (a cyclical factor) which explains why unemployment is so freakin' high, but unemployment being persistent has nothing to do with cyclical factors- yet it seems more structural reforms may be necessary.  This isn't house lock people this is something more than that. This is the structure of unemployment benefits and the nature of profit seeking firms, that want to please shareholders.  Being lean and mean is attractive for companies that face constant uncertainty, especially when growth would be a miracle occurrence.

The last graph shows that while unemployment does still remain stubbornly high at least it is falling.  Although this may be because people are just plain dropping out of the labor force.  A closer look into the Employment Situation would be necessary to reveal the details.

keep dancin'

Steven J.


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