11 November 2013

This Decade's Economy: As Strong as the 80s or 90s.

Want your friends at the diner to look at you as if you've announced that you're starting a neo-fascist party? Casually mention that the economy this decade is about as strong as it was during Reagan's 80s or Clinton's 90s.

Friday's job report added about a quarter of a million new jobs. (The American economy created 204,000 jobs in October and the job creation numbers for September and August were revised upwards by 45,000 and 15,000, for a total of 264,000 new jobs reported.)

Oddly, the rate of job creation this decade is pretty good. If it weren't for the rate at which we're destroying government jobs, we'd be creating jobs at the same rate we averaged in the 90s; as it is, we're creating jobs at the same we did in the 80s.

The government sector has shed more jobs in the last few years than any time since the years after World War II.  In spite of governments' best attempts to destroy jobs, the private sector is creating jobs at a rate roughly comparable to past decades.

As you can see in this graph, the biggest problem with the American economy this decade is last decade. This decade's job creation rate is not enough to make up for last decade's job destruction rate. When you are creating about 18 to 22 million jobs per decade, suddenly losing 1.2 million jobs in a decade makes the next decade - no matter how ordinary - seem dismal. We may well create 18 to 20 million jobs this decade (2010 to 2019)  but to make up for the aughts (2000 - 2009), we would need to create about 35 to 40 million jobs, an unprecedented number, almost double the most we've ever created.

Of course the fact that the aughts were a terrible decade is not news. That fact is history. Yet that tired fact is what make this decade's normal seem so anemic; history is what gives today's news context, gives it meaning. And what last decade's performance means for this decade is that ordinary isn't nearly as impressive as it used to be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's only true if all jobs are created equal. Are they?