Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Numbers illustrate the challenge facing American workers

These are grim times for America's workers. The Great Recession has created a huge gap between the number of jobs available and the number of people looking for work. Just to get back to the pre-recession employment rate, the nation would need to create 11 million jobs, according to figures from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released in connection with Labor Day.

Some other telling numbers from EPI:
  • The number of unemployed workers for every job opening: 5
  • Accounting for population growth, number of workers that should have been added to the labor force since December 2007: +3.7 million
  • Actual change in the size of the labor force since December 2007: +241,000
  • Total jobs lost since the start of the recession: -7.6 million
Even more discouraging for workers, EPI reports productivity from 2002 to 2007 rose 11 percent, while median compensation declined 0.6 percent.

Among the very few bright spots in EPI's "Labor Day by the Numbers" report, private-sector jobs in August 2010 increased 67,000 nationwide. Chad Stone of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put the August employment numbers in perspective in a statement issued last week: "The case for additional stimulus to boost a tepid economic recovery and revive the job market remains strong."

Data set for release during September should offer an even more detailed picture of how the Great Recession has affected working people, including considerable detail about Colorado. The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute team is planning a number of reports examining the data under the banner Recession 360.

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