Quick Takes | Jobs and Unemployment

Job gap still widening

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday released employment data for September, the 21st month of consecutive job loss. While job losses have moderated since the huge drops early this year, they remain substantial — 263,000 jobs were shed in September and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8%. The only factor that kept unemployment from rising higher was that 571,000 workers dropped out of the labor force.
Between the 7.2 million jobs lost since the start of the downturn in December 2007, and the 2.7 million jobs (about 127,000 per month) that should have been added to keep up with population growth, the gap in the labor market has now reached approximately 9.9 million jobs. To close this gap and return the labor market to pre-recession conditions by September of 2011, employment would have to increase by an average of 538,000 jobs every month between now and then. Thanks to the Recovery Act, we have stepped back from the abyss and losses are moderating. But the hole in the labor market is now so huge that it will require enormous, sustained levels of growth to fill it any time soon. -Heidi Shierholz

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