U.S. Employment May Soon Exceed Pre-Recession Levels

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classified-adsFive years after the Great Recession officially ended, we may be inching closer to the light at the end of the tunnel.

On Friday, the Department of Labor releases its May jobs report, and economists predict the labor market will have added more than the 113,000 jobs necessary to exceed 2008 numbers.

Experts interviewed by CNNMoney estimate that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in May, while a report by the payroll processing firm Automatic Data Processing says the private sector saw an increase of 179,000 jobs last month. Even the latter number would be enough to fully recover all the jobs lost during the recession.

But before you celebrate this economic upturn, keep in mind that it’s taken more than four years to bring back the 8.7 million jobs that disappeared in just two years, according to CNNMoney. Moreover, the jobs that we have created since 2009 aren’t exactly the same ones that were lost during the financial crisis.

For example, the recession cost us about 4.2 million jobs in construction and manufacturing—and we’ve only recovered about 25% of those positions. On the other hand, there have been significant increases in the number of jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries, as well as in professional offices.

The strength of the recovery also varies by state. In Nevada and Arizona, many jobs lost during the downturn still haven’t returned; while North Dakota has a whopping 30% more jobs than in 2008.

The unemployment rate is another issue: Economists expect that unemployment increased slightly in May, to 6.4% (though that’s possibly a result of more people looking for work recently). Experts say we won’t reach “full employment,” or an unemployment rate of 5.5%, for at least another two years.

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