Five Questions About Today’s Job Market
It’s Labor Day, a good day for an update on the state of America workers. Here’s a Q&A with The Wall Street Journal’s economics editor and Capital columnist, David Wessel. (Plus, listen to Mr. Wessel on NPR’s “Morning Edition” here.)
Q: How are America’s workers doing?
Not good. Over the past decade, over the ups and downs of the economy, taking inflation into account, the compensation of the typical worker — wages and benefits — basically haven’t risen at all. And, more recently, even though the economy has been growing for more than two years, workers still haven’t recovered from the deep recession. The Labor Department recently said that 6.1 million workers in 2009-2011 have lost jobs that they’d had for at least three years. Of those, 45% hadn’t found work as of January 2012. And of those who had found full-time jobs, half had settled for lower wages, a third for wages 20% or more below their old ones.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that unemployment is still two percentage points higher than normal — that works out to 3 million workers. “The stagnation of the labor market in particular is a grave concern not only because of the enormous suffering and waste of human talent it entails, but also because persistently high levels of unemployment will wreak structural damage on our economy that could last for many years,” he said at the Fed’s Jackson Hole, Wyo., conference.
Read More: Wall Street Journal