Jobs

We're Still Seven Million Jobs In The Hole

Yes, April was a good month for job growth. Yes, the U.S. has added nearly two million jobs since early last year, and the rate of job growth is increasing.

These are all good signs. But we're still deep, deep in the hole. The economy lost nearly nine million jobs in the two years leading up to February of 2010, when the jobs number bottomed out. Since then, the economy has added nearly two million jobs. So we're still seven million in the hole.

Here's what that looks like across several key industries:

Jobs lost or gained, in selected industries. i i
Jess Jiang/NPR
Jobs lost or gained, in selected industries.
Jess Jiang/NPR

Here's another way of looking at it — by percentage of jobs lost and gained within each industry, instead of absolute numbers:

Percent change in jobs, in selected industries. i i
Jess Jiang/NPR
Percent change in jobs, in selected industries.
Jess Jiang/NPR

A few notes on some of the industries shown here:

Construction: Construction jobs aren't going to come back until the glut of houses for sale subsides. The glut won't subside until the foreclosure rate decreases. (Foreclosures add to the number of existing houses on the market.) And the foreclosure rate is expected to remain high through much of this year.

Manufacturing: The sector was losing jobs even before the recession, as companies moved toward more automation and more high-end products, and away from labor-intensive, low-end manufacturing. After getting clobbered during the recession, the sector has been adding jobs — but the additions are nowhere near big enough to make up for the cuts.

Admin, Leisure and Hospitality: These categories include lots of relatively low paid service jobs. (Jobs in a subcategory called "food services and drinking places" are a huge component.) They got whacked in the recession but have come back strong over the past year — a reminder of where much of the job growth has been.

State and Local Government: This sector, which includes teachers, held steady during the years when the private sector was cutting. But strapped cities and states have been cutting for the past year. The trend persisted through last month, when the number of state and local government jobs fell by more than 20,000.

Health care: If there's a silver lining to the fact that health care is gobbling up an ever bigger share of the national economy, this is it. The sector has been the big jobs winner, adding positions month after month through both the recession and the recovery.

For more: Here's a ton of data on jobs in these and other sectors.

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