NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Jobless Recovery Does Not Discriminate

October 14, 2002

Economic recoveries generally tend to put some groups of workers on payrolls earlier than others. But the current recovery -- which has so far produced very few if any new jobs -- has spread the pain throughout many groups.

  • Partly because the collapse of the technology bubble of the late 1990s has hurt white-collar workers even more than their blue-collar counterparts, the unemployment rate for college graduates has risen as much since early last year as it has for high school dropouts.
  • Joblessness among whites has increased by about the same amount, in proportional terms, as it has among blacks and Hispanics.
  • The lack of a recovery in technology spending continues to bring job cuts in that sector.
  • The number of people on payrolls fell in September for the first time in five months, help-wanted advertising has dropped significantly, and the number of unemployment-insurance claims, while volatile, has generally risen.

If the economy follows roughly the same recovery schedule it did a decade ago, companies will begin adding more than 100,000 jobs a month by early next year, experts predict.

However, the jumpstart in hiring that the manufacturing sector once provided at the beginning of a recovery is no longer there, thanks to the relative decline in the strength of that sector. Now, because of the new technology, companies have been able to increase productivity without hiring new workers.

Long-term, the labor market is expected to tighten over the decade, as the advance guard of baby-boomers begins retiring and fewer young adults replace them in the labor force.

Source: David Leonhardt and Daniel Altman, "With Few Jobs Being Created, Pain Is Felt Far and Wide," New York Times, October 13, 2002.


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