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10-Year Private Sector Job Growth Finally Goes Negative

Consider this a memorial service. Back in June, I wrote a post called “A Lost Decade for Jobs”, where I pointed out that 10-year private job growth was rapidly heading for zero.

Well, folks, it finally happened this morning. The employment report shows that private sector employment in August 2009 was lower than it was in August 1999—the first time this has happened since the Great Depression. Here’s the chart:

Yes, people have objected that I’m comparing a boom year to a bust year, and so I am. But frankly, comparing bust years to bust years doesn’t make the picture better.

Here’s the change in private employment from one recession trough to the next (assuming that August 2009 is a recession trough).

For example, from the recession trough of March 1991 to the recession trough of November 2001, private employment rose by 21.7%. That’s typical…in general, private jobs grow from recession to recession.

But not this time! As of August 2009, we are down 839K private jobs compared to the previous trough in November 2001. The only other negative trough-trough case was July 1980 to November 1982—and many economists treat the 1980 and 1981-82 recessions as a single downturn.

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