December 27, 2011

Why that 99% Meme is Catching On

"This chart shows real GDP in the U.S. and the level of total civilian employment from 2002-2011. The total output of the U.S. economy in Q3 of this year finally increased to a level above the output in the fourth quarter of 2007, when the recession started (blue line). In other words, the U.S. economy has now made a complete recovery from the 2007-2009 recession. But the labor market is still struggling to recover. We have 6.6 million fewer jobs today in the U.S. than in December 2007 when the recession started (red line in chart), along with a 8.6% unemployment rate, and thus another "jobless recovery." On the other hand, it's remarkable that the U.S. economy is now able to produce more output than in 2007, but is doing so with 6.6 million fewer workers, as a result of significant gains in productivity brought about by the severe recession. Therefore, the chart helps to tell the story of two different sides of an economy in recovery:

We've seen huge gains in productivity and a recovery in output, but at the same time we see a labor market struggling to recover, with the possibility that it will take many more years or even a decade to regain all of the millions of jobs lost during the recession." - Mark J. Perry, Ph.D., visiting fellow, American Enterprise Institute. From the Atlantic Monthly's Most Important Graphs of 2011.

This is arguably the most important national public policy issue of our time. A related question to ponder here is: To what extent is it also a business ethical problem?