WaPo’s Plumer, Univ. of Mich. Prof in March 2012: ‘Let’s Call It a Recovery’; March 2013 Evidence: ‘Let’s Not’
Note: This post serves to show yet another example of premature celebration of a recovery that STILL hasn’t happened. The people calling the jobs market situation a “recovery” in early March of 2012 were quite obviously wrong.
On March 9, 2012 at the Washington Post, reacting to that month’s jobs report, Brad Plumer at the Wonkblog echoed University of Michign Professor Justin Wolfers in saying that we should now, finally, after all these years and all these tears, say the following about the job market: “Let’s call it a recovery.”
This post follows up on that contention one year later.
Since the most appropriate definition of “recovery” in connection with economics and in context is “restoration or return to any former and better state or condition” (dictionary.com), I say “Let’s not, because it isn’t” (graphic found at The Blaze):
The following chart tracks job contraction and growth as a percentage of the pre-recession peak for all recoveries and the current non-recovery since World War II:
One year after Plumer’s premature celebration (i.e., after the release of the Feb. 2013 jobs report), employment isn’t anywhere near back to where it was at its January 2008 peak. It hasn’t “recovered.” Based on eyeballing the graph just presented and assuming that job growth continues at the pace seen during the past year, it will take 12-15 months just to return to that early 2008 peak — before considering populationg growth during the intervening six-plus years.
As James Pethokoukis at AEI.org noted on March 9, 2013, the Feb. 2013 improvement rate leaves us by one measurement over eight years away from a properly defined recovery:
During the past three months, the economy has added an average of 191,000 jobs. At that pace, according to the Jobs Gap calculator from the Hamilton Project, it would take 101 months to return to pre-Great Recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month. Oh, and that calculation assumes no recessions between now and late 2021.
Going forward from March 2013, it will take many more months during which we see a similar “burst of hiring,” the pet term the Associated Press used yesterday, before we can even begin to have a discussion about whether we can “call it a recovery.” And it almost goes without saying that Brad Plumer wouldn’t have called the then-current circumstances a “recovery” in 2012 if a Republican or conservative were in the White House.
It couldn’t be more obvious how wrong Plumer and Wolfers were in March 2012.