Are American workers better off than last year? YES.
can be thankful for significant gains in the labor market since last Labor Day,
making this one of the best job markets in recent history. Month by month, the
economic conditions of the
The current unemployment rate of 5 percent is the lowest in four years, far below the 6.3 percent peak two years ago, and is one of the lowest among all developed nations.
Labor Day, the jobless rate has declined in 290 of the 367 metro areas, and the
employment picture is so strong that four states --
There have been 26 consecutive months of employment gains, adding about 2 million jobs to the payrolls in each of the last two years. Employment growth has been so strong since last Labor Day that all of the jobs lost during the 2001 recession were completely regained by January of this year.
Since then, we
have continued to add an average of almost 200,000 new jobs each month, the
fastest pace for average monthly job growth in any year since 1999. More
Americans are working today than at any time in
Unemployed workers are finding it easier to find jobs this year -- the median time unemployed is the lowest since 2001, and is more than one week shorter than last year at this time.
Rising labor productivity has helped boost the output of goods and services to record levels. Growth in real gross domestic product has exceeded 3 percent in each of the last nine quarters for the first time in more than 20 years.
labor market and rising compensation have sent American workers on the biggest
spending spree in American history -- consumers spent more on retail sales in
July -- $357 billion -- than in any single other month in
Improvements for workers since last Labor Day have been so positive that the term "jobless recovery" has gradually disappeared as employment levels set new records.
American workers can confidently celebrate Labor Day this year knowing that a new term is now being frequently used to describe the current economy: "The Great American Jobs Machine."
Mark J. Perry
is a professor of finance and economics at the University of Michigan-Flint,
and a member of the Board of Scholars for the Michigan-based
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Salt Lake Tribune