The Center's work on 'Unemployment' Issues


Bernstein on Five Years of Economic Recovery

July 15, 2014 at 3:22 pm

CBPP Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein testified today before the Joint Economic Committee on the progress that has been made in repairing the U.S. economy over the first five years of the recovery from the Great Recession.

Bernstein explained:

When markets fail as massively as they did in the late 2000s, quick and forceful action clearly helps offset the damage.  But to stop at stabilization, instead of rebuilding jobs and incomes that were lost over the downturn is a serious policy mistake, one that has proven to be extremely costly to working families. . . . [T]here is time to build on the recent momentum we’ve seen, particularly in the job market.

Bernstein pointed out that while there are many positive attributes to the current recovery, especially in relation to the depth of the previous recession, it is clearly not yet reaching everyone:

  • Thanks in part to countercyclical policies legislated by Congress in 2009, along with aggressive monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, significant progress has been made in repairing the damage done by the uniquely deep recession that began in late 2007.
  • These gains, while incomplete, are evident in the job market, particularly in the recent acceleration in job growth and decline in unemployment.  After 52 consecutive months of net private sector job growth, non-government employment is up 9.7 million jobs since early 2010.
  • Moreover, employment growth has accelerated in recent months.  Payrolls added 1.4 million jobs in the first half of this year, their strongest six-month growth period since late 1999.

  • Un- and underemployment are both down significantly over the recovery, as are other slack metrics that rose sharply in the downturn, including long-term unemployment and involuntary part-time work.  While part of the decline in unemployment was due to labor force exits, this negative trend has also stabilized in recent months.
  • Private payrolls grew about 3 percent faster over the first five years of this recovery compared to the prior recovery, despite the fact that the recession that preceded this expansion was much deeper in terms of lost output and much longer lasting than the downturn that preceded the 2000s expansion.  The private sector added 3.4 million more jobs in the first five years of this recovery than were added in the last one.
  • Yet, slack remains in the job market and wage growth has generally not yet accelerated; real median household income, after falling sharply by around 10 percent in the downturn, is up about 3 percent over the past few years, largely due to more work at flat real earnings.  Corporate profitability and financial market returns, on the other hand, have more than recovered their losses.

Bernstein warned that policymakers cannot stop at stabilization. To prolong and strengthen the recovery, he recommended investing in infrastructure and increasing the federal minimum wage.

Click here for Bernstein’s full testimony.

Today’s Jobs Report in Pictures

July 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

Today’s jobs report contains encouraging signs that the labor market is healing but also reminders that it remains far from fully healed.  Payroll employment jumped by 288,000 in June and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent.  While employment increased sharply and unemployment fell, there was little net growth in the labor force, leaving the percentage of people with a job well below where it was at the start of the Great Recession.  Nearly a third of the unemployed have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer and encounter more re-employment obstacles than the typical jobseeker.  That’s why Congress should act immediately to restore emergency federal unemployment insurance.

Employment bar chart

Unprecedented job losses

Unemployment rate

Epop

Long-term unemployed

Emergency Jobless Benefits Cut-Off Has Hit Nearly 300,000 Veterans

June 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

The number of jobless veterans who’ve lost access to federal jobless benefits since Congress allowed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) to expire at the end of last year — which we estimated at the end of February was close to 200,000 and counting — will reach an estimated 285,000 by the end of this month.

EUC provided additional weeks of unemployment benefits to people who could not find a new job before exhausting their regular state benefits, which run for up to 26 weeks in most states.  About 1.3 million workers were cut off from EUC when the program expired on December 28, according to the most recent Labor Department estimates, and another 1.6 million have exhausted their regular state benefits in the first six months of this year.

We estimate that about 1 in 10 EUC recipients were veterans (based on the Census Bureau’s March Current Population Survey, which shows that over the last three years, 9.7 percent of unemployment insurance recipients who were looking for work for between 27 and 73 weeks were veterans).  Applying that percentage to the Labor Department totals, about 285,000 veterans have been cut off from EUC — about 130,000 when the program expired December 28 and even more since then who have exhausted their regular benefits and not received any EUC.

In February, we urged Congress to act quickly to reauthorize EUC retroactively to restore benefits to those who’d already lost them and keep the total number of vets — and other long-term unemployed workers — denied emergency jobless benefits from continuing to grow.

Congress hasn’t acted yet — and the numbers keep growing.

Update: Where Things Stand for the Unemployed

June 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Emergency federal jobless benefits expired in December, and the Senate-passed extension, which only provides benefits retroactively through May 31, continues to languish in the House.  This means that only regular state UI benefits — 26 weeks, in most states — are available to qualifying workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.  We’ve updated our backgrounder on the weeks of UI available in each state to reflect where things stand for the unemployed across the country.

This map and table show the number of weeks available in each state, along with the state’s three-month average unemployment rate.  Click here for state-by-state figures on the nearly 5 million workers who have already lost emergency unemployment benefits or will run out of regular benefits through the end of 2014 and not receive emergency benefits if policymakers don’t restart the program.

Georgia and North Carolina will update the number of weeks of UI they offer for the second half of 2014 at the beginning of July, further cutting their already shorter-than-standard benefits.

Today’s Jobs Report in Pictures

June 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

Today’s jobs report shows that more than six years after the onset of the Great Recession and the worst jobs slump since the 1930s, payroll employment has finally topped its level at the start of the recession.  Still, with essentially no net job growth since December 2007 but continued growth in the working-age population, there are many more people now who want to be working but don’t have a job.

Click here for my full statement with further analysis.