Although there are signs that the labour market is picking up in the United States, it remains true that way too many people have been unemployed for way too long.
There are various explanations and theories for why this is, but one stubborn fact remains: In recent years we’ve seen an unprecedented wave of public sector layoffs.
Bill McBride at Calculated Risk has updated his famous chart showing the trajectory of public sector employment under various presidents.
The trajectory under Obama is so much different than other presidents, it’s not even funny.
What’s crazy, furthermore, is not just that the decline has been violent, but that it continues to this day. There still hasn’t been a snap back.
It’s usually at this point that conservatives point out that all of the jobshed has been at the state and local level, and not at the federal level, where Obama can more easily influence policy. And that’s true, but it’s also irrelevant, because this isn’t really a political point.
The fact of the matter is that the private sector under Obama has grown at a fairly typical pace. Right in the middle of the pack, really.
Again, here’s that chart from Calculated Risk.
It’s also safe to surmise the private payroll levels would be stronger if the economy weren’t being continually buffeted by public-sector job losses, but that counter factual isn’t even that important. All that matters is the primary story of this weak jobs recovery has been the severe level of public-sector job losses.
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