The American labour market has been dead for eight years

I am periodically sent junk mail by an old high school friend who now lives in California. His latest is an article on Still the economy, stupid? about how household incomes have just shot up, proving how great the American economy is going. So I went and did some minor investigation on non-farm seasonally adjusted employment, and the data may be found below. Start in 2008 which was the annual peak in 2008 as the GFC hit, and compare it with the level in 2016. Eight years later, in 2016, employment levels are 4.9% higher than they were then.

Let’s do another. The data are seasonally adjusted so we can compare different months in different years. The high point in employment occurs in the month of January 2008. Employment continues to fall until March 2010 when it begins to pick up again. The growth in non-farm employee numbers between the month of January 2008 and the latest figure in August 2016 is 4.5%. This is an average annual growth rate of 0.5% a year. It took six years – not until May 2014 – before employment had finally passed the level it had been at its previous peak. The labour market has been dead, an absolutely abysmal recovery. It’s pathetic for these people to pretend otherwise, and if he really is this clueless about labour market conditions, he really should not be writing stories about recovery and why has no one noticed. No one has noticed because there has been nothing to see.

Here is the series, and you can look up the numbers here.

Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National)
Original Data Value

Series Id: CES0000000001
Seasonally Adjusted
Series Title: All employees, thousands, total nonfarm, seasonally adjusted
Super Sector: Total nonfarm
Industry: Total nonfarm
NAICS Code: –
Data Type: ALL EMPLOYEES, THOUSANDS
Years: 2006 to 2016

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