The nation’s unemployment rate is precisely where it was in the fall of 2008, but according to writer Binyamin Appelbaum, the labor market remains much weaker today than it was then. For instance, 3 percent of America’s adult population reports that they are working part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs. This figure remains far above the December 2007 level of about 1.8 percent. In fact, part time jobs accounted for two thirds of all new jobs added in June, which suggests that many of these new jobs related to summertime consumer spending. Those are the types of jobs that may not last into the fall and are unlikely to pay significantly while they last.
And of course, there are legions of people who are not counted as unemployed because they are not actively seeking employment. It isn’t clear how many of these people will return to the labor force as the economy improves. What is clear is that many people have dropped out of the U.S. labor force over the last few years. In June, the Labor Department reported that 2.7 percent of American adults were not actively looking for work even though they would like to have a job. In December of 2007, when the recession was just beginning, that proportion stood at just 2 percent.