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U.S. Jobs Already Coming Back Slower than During the Great Depression

July 13, 2011

Since non-farm payroll employment (the most common measure of jobs) bottomed out in February 2010 at 129.2 million, the U.S. job market has gained a total of 1.8 million jobs, or an average of about 111,000 jobs in each of the past 16 months.  Although 111,000 jobs per month may seem like a lot, a recent AP article notes that the “economy typically needs to add 125,000 jobs per month just to keep up with population growth.  And at least twice that many jobs are needed to bring down the unemployment rate.”   At the current weak pace of job creation, it will take another 63 months – until September 2016 – to simply return employment to the prior peak level of 138.0 million recorded in January 2008.  That projected gap of eight years and eight months before we return to the prior level of jobs is longer than it took to restore non-farm jobs lost in the Great Depression, as the chart below from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.