Saturday, November 07, 2009

This may explain why reporting the recession is lacking the gloom-and-doom tone of prevous recessions:

NYTimes: (emp add)
One of the more striking aspects of the Great Recession is that most of its impact has fallen on a relatively narrow group of workers. This is evident primarily in two ways.

First, the number of people who have experienced any unemployment is surprisingly low, given the severity of the recession. The pace of layoffs has increased, but the peak layoff rate this year was the same as it was during the 2001 recession, which was a fairly mild downturn. The main reason that the unemployment rate has soared is the hiring rate has plummeted.

So fewer workers than might be expected have lost their jobs. (...)

Second, wages have continued to rise for most people who still have jobs. The average hourly wage for rank-and-file workers, who make up about four-fifths of the work force, actually accelerated in October, according to the new report. (...)

Even though some companies have cut the pay of workers, the average hourly wage has still risen 1.5 to 2.5 percent over the last year (...)

In the other two severe recessions in recent decades, workers with jobs fared considerably worse. At the same point in the mid-1970s downturn, real weekly pay had fallen 7 percent; in the early 1980s recession, it had fallen 4 percent.

It is a strange combination: workers who still have a job are doing better than in other deep recessions, but the unemployment and underemployment have risen to their highest level since the Depression.


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