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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 12, 2010

EVEN IF THE ECONOMY IMPROVES, MANY JOBS WON'T COME BACK

Wall Street Journal - Even when the U.S. labor market finally starts adding more workers than it loses, many of the unemployed will find that the types of jobs they once had simply don't exist anymore. . .

One in three jobs, or six million total, have been lost in the manufacturing sector since 1997, the last year the sector posted job gains. The upsurge in construction jobs accompanying the housing boom provided these workers in manufacturing with an opportunity to earn decent wages.

Now that door, too, has shut. With 1.6 million jobs lost over the last two years, the construction sector has accounted for more than a fifth of the jobs lost since the recession began.

For more highly educated workers, finance may no longer offer as many high-paying jobs as it has in the past. Thomas Philippon, an economist at New York University's Stern School of Business, estimates that the financial sector's share of the economy was nearly 20% larger than it should have been. Since the start of the recession, the financial sector has lost 548,000 jobs, or 6.6% of its work force. . .

In November, there were 36% fewer people working in record shops than two years earlier, according to the Labor Department. There were 23% fewer people working at directory and mailing list publishers, and 46% fewer at photofinishing establishments. Those are jobs that, with the advent of mp3 recordings, Google and digital photography, were likely disappearing anyway.

. . . Prior to the 1990s, jobs rebounded quickly once recessions ended. Payrolls fell by nearly three million in the deep downturn that extended from July 1981 to November 1982. But by the start of 1983, the economy was creating jobs again, and by the end of 1983, the U.S. job count had exceeded its old peak.

That was because more of the job losses were essentially temporary, with manufacturers and the like letting workers go with the implicit expectation that they would be hiring them back once the worst was over.

But since the early 1990s, jobs have been slower to recover from recession. After the 2001 downturn ended, job losses continued for nearly two years. It wasn't until 2005 that the job count returned to its prerecession high.

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