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Another Jobless Recovery

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The expansion of the 1990s began with such unexpectedly slow employment growth that commentators called it the “jobless recovery.” As the economy now begins to expand after the most recent recession, will employment follow the typical path of most postwar recoveries, or will it repeat the pattern of the 1990s? A look at trends in employment, unemployment, and the labor force participation rate reveals important similarities with the jobless recovery. That said, one feature that stands out is an unusually low level of labor force participation, which suggests the recovery might be better characterized as “jobseekerless.”

The expansion of the 1990s began with such unexpectedly slow employment growth that commentators called it the “jobless recovery.” As the economy now begins to expand after the most recent recession, will employment follow the typical path of most postwar recoveries, or will it repeat the pattern of the 1990s? A look at trends in employment, unemployment, and the labor force participation rate reveals important similarities with the jobless recovery. That said, one feature that stands out is an unusually low level of labor force participation, which suggests the recovery might be better characterized as “jobseekerless.”


Suggested citation: Schweitzer, Mark, 2003. "Another Jobless Recovery," Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary, 03.01.2003.

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