Job Losses in Three Views

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics gave us the recent Job Loss data, statisticians everywhere have been working to give us an accurate picture of what this means to the economy.  Of the many charts currently available, I think these three are the most informative. Click on the charts to view full size.

“We can’t embrace the losing formula that says only tax cuts will work for every problem we face; that ignores critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil, or the soaring cost of health care, or falling schools and crumbling bridges and roads and levees. I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV — if you’re headed for a cliff, you’ve got to change direction. – Barack Obama

Comparing Percentage Job Losses, post WW2

This graph, from Calculated Risk, shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms (as opposed to the number of jobs lost).
For the current recession, employment peaked in December 2007, and this recession was a slow starter (in terms of job losses and declines in GDP).
However job losses have really picked up over the last year, and the current recession is now the 2nd worst recession since WWII in percentage terms (and the 1948 recession recovered very quickly) – and also in terms of the unemployment rate (only early ’80s recession was worse).

Comparing Recession Job Losses as a Percentage of Employment

The economy again shed hundreds of thousands of jobs on net in August, although the pace of losses is slowing.

The second chart, from Economix, shows job losses in this recession compared to six recent ones, with the dark blue line representing the current downturn. Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has had a net loss of about 5 percent of its non-farm payroll jobs.

Current Job Losses vs Previous Recessions

And finally, from Chart of the Day, this: “the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls (jobs) decreased by 216,000 in August. Today’s chart puts that decline into perspective by comparing job losses during the current economic recession (solid red line) to that of the last recession (dashed gold line) and the average recession from 1950-2006 (dashed blue line). As today’s chart illustrates, the current job market has suffered losses that are more than six times as much as average (20 months after the beginning of a recession). In fact, if this were an average recession/job loss cycle, the number of jobs would have begun to increase five months ago.”

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