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Economic Commentary

Looking Back at Slow Employment Growth

Jobs growth in the current expansion has been unusually sluggish despite coming on the heels of a relatively mild recession in 1990-91. Employment finally returned to its pre-recession level in April of last year, but vigorous growth did not resume until the very end of 1993. Three years into the recovery, employment has increased only 4.8 percent, compared with an average of 11.2 percent during the past three economic upturns. If jobs growth since mid-1991 had kept pace with previous patterns, an additional seven million Americans would be employed today. Such lackluster performance is difficult to explain and has led to widespread concern. Though employment gains have been heading upward again in the past few months, understanding what has held down employment growth for so long may reveal ongoing economic pressures.

The views authors express in Economic Commentary are theirs and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The series editor is Tasia Hane. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This paper and its data are subject to revision; please visit for updates.

Suggested Citation

Roberts, Kristin, and Mark E. Schweitzer. 1994. “Looking Back at Slow Employment Growth.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary 8/15/1994.

This work by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International