A Jobs Report Worth Celebrating, Cautiously : Planet Money We added 1.6 million jobs last year. But we're still down 6 million jobs since 2008.
NPR logo A Jobs Report Worth Celebrating, Cautiously

A Jobs Report Worth Celebrating, Cautiously

The jobs report released today is good. Very good. The economy added about 200,000 jobs last month, and about 1.6 million jobs last year. And the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in almost three years.

But don't plan that parade just yet. People are still struggling to find jobs. Before the recession, the unemployment rate was around 5 percent. The number from this month: 8.5 percent.

And people are also struggling to find jobs they want. Since the recession, the broader unemployment rate — which includes people who are working part-time but want to work full-time and people who are so discouraged they've given up looking for a job — went from 9.1 percent to 15.2 percent.

A Broader Look At Unemployment


The economy lost 8.75 million jobs in the two years leading up to February of 2010, when the the number of jobs hit its lowest point. Since then, the economy has added 2.65 million jobs. That means we're still over 6 million jobs in the hole.

Here's the jobs picture in a few key sectors:

A graph showing the number of jobs gained or lost in the two years in a few key sectors.


* Excludes U.S. Postal Service

Construction: The economy lost nearly 2 million construction jobs since the industry's peak in 2008. Less than 1 percent of those jobs have come back. Some economists think only half will ever return.

Manufacturing: The number of manufacturing jobs peaked in 1998, nearly a decade before the recession. Since then companies have improved technology and sent jobs abroad, both of which have translated into fewer factory workers in the U.S. The sector has added jobs since 2010 — but just 328 thousand of the 2.3 million jobs have come back since the recession ended.

State and Local Government: This sector, which includes public school teachers, didn't lose too many jobs during the recession. But since 2010, strapped cities and states have slashed budgets and cut the most jobs of all the sectors we looked at.

Health care: The prize goes to this sector, for adding the most jobs since the recession. Of course, they were adding jobs during the recession, too.