A Note to the GOP: Employment Is Always Last to Recover From a Downturn
There’s a message emerging from Republicans in Congress that says this: rising unemployment numbers are indication that the Democrats’ strategy for economic recovery has been a sheer failure, and they should be removed from office as a result.
What the critics don’t mention is the inconvenient fact that, at least in the last several decades, job creation has always been the last indicator to rebound from economic downturn. And anyone listening to economists over the past year would know that they’ve warned all along that unemployment would rise straight through 2009 and into 2010, regardless of the hundreds of billions of dollars committed to recovery.
Indeed, we ran a piece in February saying that very thing, including dark predictions from some of the country’s top economists:
Alice M. Rivlin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office: “The stimulus package is certainly not nearly big enough to get back to the bubble economy. With any luck, it will mitigate the job loss and make the recession less bad than it would otherwise be.”
Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute: “No one ever thought this would bring us back to the strong labor market of the late ’90s…There’s this incredible hope that [the stimulus] is going to solve things right away, and it’s just not.”
Chad Stone, chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “The goal is to get the economy back to a higher level of employment, [but] everyone expects unemployment to rise in 2009.”
This makes some sense. Just as unemployment numbers rose gradually over the past two years, the recovery will likewise take some time, as month-to-month jobless figures slowly get smaller until we’re again into job-creation territory. This doesn’t make things any easier on the folks poised to lose jobs in the meantime, but it does reveal the fallacy of expectations that the country already should be fully recovered from the worst economic downturn in 80 years.