The US labor market: Myth and reality

US Labor Market

In his first four years in the White House, George W. Bush presided over a net destruction of 2 million jobs. Only in his second mandate, his track record improved slightly, in spite of the dramatic job losses of his last year in office, during the beginning of the Great Recession. However, even that record of accomplishment is very poor—only 1,083,000 new jobs were added. That means that, in his eight years in the White House, George W. Bush presided over a net loss of one million jobs. If the financial industry is excluded, the United States has just recovered 95 percent of the job losses it suffered in the 2007-2009 period.

Equally remarkable is Obama’s White House’s inability to capitalize politically the labor market improvement. In October Americans thought on average that the US economy had created in the previous twelve months 305,000 jobs, while the actual number was 2.2 million. For a president that is said to dominate the art of communicating his message, this reveals a rather catastrophic PR strategy.

Probably, American’s wrong perception of the situation of the labor market has more to do with the actual income they get for work. According to the Pew Research Center, wealth for the top 7% of households averaged $3.2 million in 2011, compared to $133,817 for the bottom 93%. The average American family’s real income has been steadily falling since 2007, and it is now at the 1989 levels. This means that the U.S. is not in a jobless recovery, but in a ‘wageless’ one. Hence Obama’s new strategy to push for an increase of the minimum wage from its current $7.25 dollars per hour to $9 (both figures are gross), and then indexing it to the CPI. The proposal has been received with scorn by the Republicans, but it could be one of the ideas that would frame next November’s Congressional elections.

About the Author

Pablo Pardo
Pablo Pardo is Washington DC correspondent of El Mundo. Journalist especialized in International Economics and Politics.

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