Here’s the bad news: The nation’s payrolls are still down 10.7 million jobs, or about 7 percent, since their peak in February, when the recession began. That’s enormous. In fact, a higher net share of jobs is still “missing” today, relative to pre-recession times, than was the case even at the worst period of any prior postwar downturn.
The chart below shows percentage changes in employment since the recession began, and how recent trends compare with other postwar downturns and recoveries. The black line plots the Great Recession and its aftermath. At the very worst point for the job market in that business cycle, payrolls were down about 6.3 percent. Now, however, the magnitude of those Great Recession job losses looks slightly less “great” when compared with more recent changes in employment, plotted by the red line.
Another measure of labor market health, the unemployment rate, tells a barely more