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Job Loss and Recovery in Eleven Recessions since World War II

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

We noted on these pages two days ago that while the drop of the unemployment rate to 8.6 percent is certainly good news, that singular ratio doesn't begin to tell the whole story.  A startling 315,000 people gave up looking for a job in November, the labor participation rate dropped to a near historic low of just 64 percent, and population growth significantly exceeded new job creation.  


Past experience is a great teacher, and in this case it helps to put the current economic situation in relative historical perspective. The chart below demonstrates both the depth of the current recession and the extremely slow recovery as a percentage of jobs lost and then recreated.  Obviously, this is the worst recession in the past 70 years, it is already far and away the slowest to recover in terms of job creation. 

Barack Obama has been at the helm for 35 months, and yet employment is still 4.5 percent below pre-recession peak employment in January, 2008.  That represents 6.3 million missing jobs.  And even worse for those looking for work, at the current paltry rate of job creation, it will be May 2016 before we reach break even from the jobs deficit.   

The month Obama took office, he confidently proclaimed that his $800 billion economic stimulus would keep the unemployment rate from exceeding 8.0 percent.  The very next monthunemployment hit 8.2 percent and hasn't come close to Obama's self-imposed upper limit since.  According to his plan, by now the unemployment rate was supposed to be 6.0 percent and rapidly declining.  


Rather than relaxing government pressure on the ailing economy, Obama and the Democrats pushed through unprecedented volumes of new job killing regulations and new legislation including ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank.  Yet, for all of the evidence to the contrary, the White House would have us believe Obama's policies are, in the words of his chief economist, "healing" the economy.  Rather than change course, on Friday Obama said what we need is a lot more of the same - more government spending and higher taxes.  Obama said the latest Labor Department report is evidence that it is time to "step on the gas" and pass his Son-of-Stimulus package - his latest no-jobs jobs bill.  

His sycophant left is even more celebratory of the new numbers suggesting in a Daily Kos headline that "OBAMA'S Recovery Leads the World."  That is both ridiculous and a sad commentary on the state of the rest of the planet's economy - and the lack of objectivity of the myopic, worshiping left.  

Obama and the Democrats dug the job destruction hole of this recession deeper that it otherwise would have been, and their failed policies and obsession with growing government control over private lives and enterprise has exacerbated any hope of recovery.  Hope and change didn't work out as well as promised in 2008, but we get another shot at it in eleven more months.  For the sake of all those Americans looking for work, and for our fragile Republic, we had better not blow it again this time. 


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