Where are the good jobs, Washington?


The US labor market continues to meander along, adding 175,000 jobs last month. As JP Morgan notes, that February jobs gain essentially matches the six-month average gain of 177,000 and twelve-month average gain of 180,000. (And over the the past 12 months, the average gain is 189,000.)

But what kind of jobs are being created? There are still 4.1 million fewer full-time workers today than in November 2007, just before the Great Recession began. About 81% of workers are full-time now vs. 83% prerecession.

To push this further, the CBO says employment at the end of 2013 was about 6 million jobs short of where it would be if the unemployment rate had returned to its prerecession level “and if the participation rate had risen to the level it would have attained without the current cyclical weakness.”

So in terms of total, full-time positions, we are 7.7 million jobs short of where we would be if the labor market were fully recovered.

Two other quick job-market insights, these courtesy of the New America Foundation. First, real wage over the course of the recovery are flat:


Second, more than half of job creation has been in low-wage positions:

031014jobs2Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

10 thoughts on “Where are the good jobs, Washington?

  1. Well this is no surprise, really. What I’m surprised about is how surprised conservatives are because they’ve been waging a war against middle class America to repress wages…successfully…for 3 decades. As Pethokoukis himself cited, Goldman Sachs’ recent study showed US wages for middle class Americans have been stagnant for 3 decades. Southern states, with their ‘right to work’ laws, have lower wages than union states even though unemployment is pretty much randomly distributed.

    So congratulations conservatives! Your efforts to engineer increased wealth transfer from the middle class to elites is working! The 1% took home 95% of all income growth in the last 3 years, just like their income tripled in the last 30 years. So what’s the complaint?

    • Yes, we all got together years ago to try and figure out how to screw a lot of people and we are so happy our fiendish plan worked!

      Seriously, so all those people who earn decent wages in Southern auto plants are better off than those who lost their jobs in Detroit because they priced themselves out of the market. Right.

  2. Of the two industries that employ blue-collar skilled labor en masse, only one can’t be offshored. The Rs disregard of the construction industry depression, coupled with austerity, promised to bury the party as thoroughly as Hoover did 75 years ago. (Manufacturing is the other.)

  3. Todd-
    I have been pondering the future of the GOP. It is a confederacy of feckless poltroons. Yet there is a need to limit the scope of government. The Donks don’t get that.
    Is there a place for another party?

    • I can’t see a third party getting any traction. It has happened once in the US system of government, and it took an issue (slavery) that literally divided the nation for the GOP to supplant the Whig party.
      But independents have had some success at the state level. Joe Lieberman is the best example of a centrist who fended off extremists in his party.
      And the two party system will work again once the pendulum swings in the South. The Rs have picked off most of the blue dog Ds who governed in the style of Lloyd Bentsen, which was genuinely compassionate and genuinely conservative. A couple more cycles of Teabagger lunacy likely will open the door for conservative Ds.

  4. And all this time, I thought it was the the AEI’s position that it is the private sector’s job to create jobs.

    As always, no solutions, just complaints. Maybe we should take up Stan Veuger’s idea of paying millions of people $4 an hour. They won’t be able to live- but they’ll be working.

    • Sheesh, pay the millions nothing for a 50 hour week in exchange for room & board with a second freebie polishing AEI fellow’s boots at an additional 10 hours per week.

      So the Wallison and Pinto AEI scholar boots get polished for the last time today! Fannie & Freddie, no more. The AEI is calling for proposals get that private mortgage market in gear.

    • There are solutions. Get the government out of the way. Starting with the EPA’s unrealistic regulations that aren’t about saving the environment but killing the industries the left leaning Democrats oppose. Restrict the Energy department as they’re filled with like minded folks at the EPA performing the executive orders. Open the Keystone XL, Allow startups to begin in gararges as Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak, and Mr Hewlitt and Mr Packard did. Cut the regulations way back, reduce taxe a lot.. I can go on with real solutions.

  5. It all comes down to individuals making themselves more marketable thru increased/better education, training and knowledge so they can compete in the marketplace for the better-paying jobs. Our education system must produce 12th graders who can rank higher than 26th in math, 21st in science and 19th in reading vs their international peers on standardized tests. We must encourage students to take the STEM courses in an increasingly technical, global economy. We graduate 70K engineers, but India graduates 150K and China 350K. Poor odds now for the U.S. engineering grad for a position in the global economy, but it can be improved.

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