The “permanent job losers” are no richer than they were last summer. But most of the 18 million people who lose their jobs in temporary layoffs are working again


It has taken years the last two times to bring back the permanent job losers, and it hasn’t even started yet.

Through Wolf richter for WOLF STREET.

Employers said they added 916,000 workers to their payroll in March and 1.62 million in the past three months (green line in graph). That brought the total number of jobs in “establishments” – businesses, governments and nonprofits – to 144.1 million, still down 8.4 million jobs from February 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning.

Households reported that 609,000 more people were working in March than in February, including odd jobs, and that in the past three months, 1.02 million more people were working compared to the end of the year. year, bringing the total number of workers to 150.8 million, still down by 7.9 million compared to February 2020 (green line):

Temporary job losers return to work. The “permanent losers” face a long struggle.

Among workers still unemployed, 2.03 million said they were on temporary layoff or on leave in March, the lowest since February 2020, down 1.01 million in the past three months and 16 million in March. compared to the April high (green columns in the graph below). This includes workers in the discretionary services sector that has been hit hardest by the pandemic, such as gyms, hair salons, bars, restaurants, sports and entertainment venues, airlines, hotels. , etc.

But the number of “permanent job losers” fell by only 65,000 in March and, at 3.4 million, was higher than it had been in December and August. In other words, these permanent job losers have not made significant progress in returning to work (red line):

This jobs crisis was very different.

In the previous two job crises, permanent job losers dominated the scene from day one (red line), and those seen as temporary job losers (green columns) were not a significant factor . At the time, most layoffs were considered permanent.

But at the start of the pandemic, when layoffs exploded overnight, most of the layoffs were told, and were considered to be, on temporary layoff.

Bringing back those permanent job losers has taken many years the last two times, and it hasn’t even started this time around:

Labor force in the same narrow range since July.

The labor force – people working or deemed to be looking for work – in March, at 160.6 million, was still down 3.9 million from February 2020, stuck in the middle of the range that has persisted since July 2020. burst:

The employment-to-population ratio has increased, dismal in the long run.

The employment-to-population ratio rose to 57.8%. It compares the number of people in the labor force to the working-age population (16 years or older) and is the broadest measure of employment.

Over the past two decades, it has followed a dismal trend. As always, it has fallen with every recession. But since 2000, the ratio has never fully recovered until the next jobs crisis.

Attribute this phenomenon to the widespread offshoring of labor which is a high priority in recessions as companies cut costs and use recession blanket to put jobs to cheap countries – not just in manufacturing, but in many areas. increasingly in services, such as technological work, health care. , legal work, research, design centers, etc .:

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