Feature

Get used to jobless recoveries

We may be experiencing a depressing “new American normal” on job creation.

Jim TankersleyWashingtonPost.com

We may be experiencing a depressing “new American normal” on job creation, said Jim Tankersley. The country is now “stuck in its third consecutive ‘jobless recovery,’ stretching back to the rebound from the 1990 recession.” And economists say we should expect future economic upswings in which workers “flail for years in a weak job market”-—even though they still aren’t sure why jobless upswings occur. One new study found that social trust has weakened, leaving job hunters more isolated and making it harder for them to find jobs. People are also “more likely to say it’s all right to claim government benefits, even if they don’t qualify for them,” which makes them less motivated to search for jobs. On the other hand, America’s aging workers tend “to drop out of the labor force if they lose their jobs by retiring early, and thus aren’t counted as unemployed for very long.” While they haven’t yet solved the “slow-recovery riddle,” researchers predict more jobless upswings ahead, and say that lawmakers should be prepared. Instead of trying to counteract downturns with “timely and temporary” fiscal stimulus packages and short-lived tax breaks, they should plan to address long declines with “more long-running investment projects.”

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