Within a Few Days, the U.S. Will Likely Have Gained Back All the Jobs Lost During the Recession

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We’ve nearly recovered all the jobs lost in the Great Recession. If we keep April's pace, the United States economy will reach a pre-recession level of employment on May 12. 

If we look at this graph from Bill McBride on Calculated Risk, it shows just how prolonged the recovery has been from this most recent recession, compared to other post-World War II recessions. It also shows that after some seven years, when the jobs slide first began, we have very nearly recovered. 

Calculated Risk

As McBride writes, the economy is still about 113,000 jobs short of the pre-recession peak. It's a good bet that we'll add at least that many jobs in May – the average monthly gain so far in 2014 has been 214,250 jobs and, excluding last December, you have to go back to June 2012 for a monthly gain that would not put us over that 113,000 mark. So unless something catastrophic happens to the economy this month, it's safe to assume we'll cross the threshold one day in the next thirty. 

When, exactly? Let's say we keep April's pace and add 288,000 jobs total this month. That's 9,600 per day, which means we'll have added 113,000 jobs by the afternoon of May 12.

Now, jobs reports are notorious for their fluctuations, so we probably won't match April's job additions exactly. And the monthly numbers are always adjusted up or down, so April's 288,000 may end up being 150,000 — or something higher. But you get the point. Any day now, using somewhat blurry metrics, the U.S. economy will finally have reached the pre-recession level of employment.

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That doesn't mean everything is rosy. Considering population growth, simply making up the jobs lost still leaves us behind the level of employment we saw in 2007. But this is the first month since September 2008 – also the month of the Lehman Brothers collapse –that the U.S. has seen an unemployment rate below 6.5 percent.

It's been 2,055 days since Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. In 10 or so more, the U.S. may have finally made back those lost jobs. We're almost back to zero.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.