fat-lady.jpgPsst. Come here. I have something to tell you. Keep this on the down low.


I know, you’ve been bombarded with stories about how things are hunky-dory now that the gross domestic product is showing signs of life. But the job recession is anything but done, and if you look at job growth coming out of the last two recessions, turns out, those recessions never really ended either.

So why would the National Bureau of Economic Research declare the recession’s end? The non-partisan group put out a release on Monday stating:

…the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion.

I’ve been pondering this statement, and the nearly 10 percent jobless rate, and the emails I’ve been getting from readers about how dismal the job market still is. Unable to make sense of it all I started emailing economists late last night to ask them WTF is going on? Some pretty knowledgeable number nerds actually emailed me back to explain the perplexing proclamation:

“The GDP hit bottom and started to grow again in June of 2009. But that means nothing for most people because they live in a world of jobs and wages, which haven’t turned around,” said Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of “Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life.”

He wrote that jobs and wages won’t be coming back until “GDP growth gets us back to the size economy we had before the GDP started to shrink.”

“The real problem,” he continued, “is we’re now growing at 1.6 percent annual rate, which means we’re not growing fast enough to bring down unemployment. Relative to the hole we got ourselves into, 1.6 percent growth is actually still downward.”

So, it sounds like we’re still in the trough. I’m amazed that NBER would be so adamant the recession is dead.

Peter Cohan, a management consultant and author of “Value Leadership: The 7 Principles that Drive Corporate Value in Any Economy”, is also amazed.

“I found it surprising that the NBER used job losses as the reason to start the recession in December 2007 but used a different measure to say it ended. It is true that GDP started to grow in June 2009 but I think it’s too early to say the recession is over if you look at job growth because even though a few jobs have been created, there have not been enough to suggest an improvement in the economy big enough to say the recession is over.

“For the top 1% it’s been fabulous since 2001 and it really has not changed under Obama. I agree, everyone else is falling behind, median incomes are down and with the stock market down in the last decade along with declining home values and 0.04% interest rates on bank accounts, the opportunity to get back in the climb is not good.

“Unfortunately, the NBER appears to have used different standards for beginning the recession than for ending it. But at least the NBER is not a political body which would define a recessions’ begin and end based on what would help win the next election.”

I guess it’s a good thing that they’re not trying to sway the election, but if there’s still a job recession, there’s still a job recession, no?

“You are correct to say that job growth has been anemic for the last decade,” said Todd Steen, Granger Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics, Management, and Accounting at Hope College in Michigan. “This recession seems to be hitting people throughout the economy, including the middle class.”

Did you catch that folks? He said this recession “seems to be hitting”. That’s present tense.

Are you still being beat up by a recession that supposedly ended many months ago?

I asked my Twitter buddies to their take in a tweet last night (OK, so I couldn’t sleep.): is the recession over or not?/is your economic condition flourishing or starting to rot?

@LaSalleNetwork wrote: We agree @CareerDiva, the recession is not over yet.

@BorisRaskin wrote: flourishing, but I am in technology. Tech is not a good bellwether.

And @AvidCareerist wrote: It’s the ongoing economic condition formerly known as The Recession, like The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, only different.

Hey, maybe that’s the answer. Let’s give this job recession another name.

Any suggestions?

How about the occupa-slump?

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