The recovery: Not jobless, but full of McJobs
Last week’s national jobs report – 195,000 positions created in June – was greeted in much of the topline press as a success, mostly because that number beat many economists’ expectations, and it beat the monthly average for the past few years.
What’s more, it continues a trend (a few months old now) of slow-but-steady job growth. The result? Many a pundit and reporter looked at the trees and saw a forest: The economy is creating jobs!
But that’s a mistake. They should study the trees again. There are a couple of big conifers that are dismissed out of hand entirely too quickly; namely, that the unemployment rate (a robust 7.6 percent) is still too high; and that 195,000 new jobs would be great if they were the kind on which you could build a recovery.
But they aren’t. Roughly a third of those jobs are in the leisure and hospitality sector; another 37,000 of them are in the retail sector. And these jobs don’t pay well. In fact, they pay even less than they did only a few years ago.
But there’s another type of employment growing at a robust clip – temporary employment. Low-wage, benefitless temp positions have been expanding since the digout from the recession began:
Temp hiring has accelerated even though the economy has 2.4 million fewer jobs than it did five years ago. Temp jobs made up about 10% of jobs lost to the recession. Yet they've made up nearly 20% of the jobs gained since the recession ended.
Meanwhile, manufacturing employment – steady, good-paying jobs that are the bellwether for growth in other corners of the economy – is stagnating. The sector is well off the pace of the kind of growth needed to bring one of President Obama’s more oft-repeated campaign promises (1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2017) to fruition.
We’re being served up an economic recovery full of McJobs, and it’s not healthy. What would be? How about a policy regimen designed to get manufacturing employment back on track?
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