America's Lost Decade for Jobs

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Just how bad were the last ten years for jobs? Horrific. Michael Mandel, the BusinessWeek economist last seen diagnosing America's failure of innovation, has crunched the numbers, and these pictures aren't pretty. The last ten years have been the worst decade for job creation since 1949.


Here's the first graph, which he describes as "horrifying."
10yrjobgrowth.pngThe lesson is easy to see, but hard to swallow. In the last ten years, the private sector has grown by 1.1 percent. That's down more than twenty-fold from the beginning of this decade. If the number of jobs lost brings the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent (which some fear could happen in the next six months, since employment is a lagging indicator of economic strength), it will bring the ten-year change in private sector jobs into negative territory. The last decade will have, quite literally, been lost to the private sector.

Mandel continues to number-crunch and finds that the nitty gritty is even uglier than the big picture. Not only has the private sector basically stalled this decade, but almost all the gains were made in three areas marked by heavy government assistance, such as health and education.
healthedgov.pngIn other words, in the last ten years we've borrowed our way into record deficits and what we have to show for it is an anemic private sector that uses the government as a crutch.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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