Brookings' Burtless: 8 More Years to Break Even on US Job Losses

Wednesday, 28 Aug 2013 08:11 AM

By John Morgan

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It will take up to eight more years for the United States to return to full employment at the current tepid pace of job growth inspired by government policies, according to Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Burtless noted in an article for Real Clear Markets that although the economic recovery began in 2009, there was no substantial progress in cutting the U.S. jobs deficit until 2011.

Yet the recovery is still sluggish for a variety of reasons.

Editor’s Note: Forbes Columnist: ‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’ (See Shocking Video)

"The simplest, most persuasive is that overall demand for goods and services produced in the United States is too low to fully employ the Americans who would be happy to hold jobs at the prevailing wage," he said.

While Congress and the White House should promote policies that spur demand, "for the past couple of years fiscal policy has pushed in exactly the opposite direction," Burtless argued.

Employment reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has grown by an average of 160,000 jobs per month since the beginning of 2011.

Yet because of population increases and changes in demographics, the United States has to create 80,000 additional jobs monthly just to break even on the unemployment rate.

"Given the current size of the jobs shortfall and the recent pace of employment growth, the nation will need another 7 ½ to 8 years to restore full employment," Burtless estimated.

As of July, the United States still needed to see a net gain of 2 million jobs to bring it back to payroll levels seen at the end of the last expansion in 2007. In 2007, the percentage of the adult population that held a job was 63 percent. The percentage holding a job the second quarter of 2013 was 58.6 percent.

Unemployment rates rose in more than half of U.S. states in July and fewer states added jobs, underscoring national data that show the job market may have lost some traction, The Associated Press reported.

The Labor Department put the jobless rate at 7.4 percent in July, not counting the underemployed. Many of the new jobs created were for part-time work.

Nevada had the nation's highest unemployment rate in July, at 9.5 percent, followed by Illinois, at 9.2 percent. North Dakota continued to have the nation's lowest jobless figure at 3 percent. South Dakota was close behind at 3.9 percent.

Editor’s Note: Forbes Columnist: ‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’ (See Shocking Video)

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