Megan McArdle – neither economist nor historian:
The number of long term unemployed has shot up relative to the people who find jobs relatively quickly. To some extent, this is normal for a recession; employment tends to be a lagging indicator, as cautious employers use existing workers to fill rising production orders, rather than taking on more employees that they might have to later fire.
But the last two recessions were characterized by lingering unemployment–the infamous “jobless recovery” under Clinton and Bush.
Under Bush, the economy produced 3.7 million new jobs from January 2001 through December of last year (2006) based on nonfarm payroll figures collected by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That figure is likely to be higher — perhaps by an additional 810,000— when the government releases annual revisions based on more complete information next month. However, that doesn’t change the basic historical picture.
When Clinton was in the White House, the economy generated 17.6 million jobs during the corresponding period — from January 1993 to December 1998. Under Reagan, 9.5 million jobs were created from January 1981 to December 1986.
THE LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE SINCE 1969 AND MORE THAN 20 MILLION NEW JOBS. In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected President, the American economy was barely creating jobs, wages were stagnant, and the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent. His bold, three-part economic strategy focused on three objectives: fiscal discipline, investing in education, health care, science and technology, and opening foreign markets. Today’s jobs release provides more evidence that this strategy is working:
The Unemployment Rate Was 4.2 Percent in 1999 — the Lowest Since 1969. The unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in December bringing the average unemployment rate for 1999 to 4.2 percent — the lowest since 1969. The unemployment rate has fallen for seven years in a row. It has remained below 5 percent for 30 months in a row. For women the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent — the lowest since 1953.
20.4 Million New Jobs Created Under the Clinton-Gore Administration. Since 1993, the economy has added 20.4 million new jobs. That’s the most jobs ever created under a single Administration – and more new jobs than Presidents Reagan and Bush created during their three terms. Under President Clinton, the economy has added an average of 245,000 jobs per month, the highest of any President on record. This compares to 52,000 per month under President Bush and 167,000 per month under President Reagan.
Obviously unemployment is not understood by those who should be unemployed.