A Jobless Recovery? No Way

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A lot are panicking over today’s December job numbers and, to be certain, the figures are not good. But like clockwork, the media promptly began wringing its hands with headlines like this one from The New York Times: “U.S. Job Losses in December Dim Hopes for Quick Upswing.”

Who was expecting a quick upswing? Think about it: employers have to be pretty confident that the good times are here to stay to hire in considerable numbers over a period of time.

Fact is, in the history of economic recovery, there has rarely, if ever, been a quick upswing in jobs. But the media bounces between that one extreme — false hope — and the other: total hopeless. Remember today’s disappointment that job growth was not perfectly linear?   Well, just a few days ago, the Times brought up the prospect of an entire decade without new jobs. Yikes!

Here’s that alarmist headline: “Even as the Economy Mends, A Jobless Decade May Loom,” read a Times headline right before New Year’s.

If history is a guide, as the current economic recovery takes hold — however slowly and through fits and starts — you should expect the media to become obsessed with the notion that we are in a jobless recovery. Don’t be panicked and don’t lose hope. Just remember that despite the elation and depression routine coming from the media, job growth is just a matter of time ... more time than the media ever allows.

Consider:

"Is There Such a Thing as a Jobless Recovery?" the Times asked in a January 2003 headline, answering yes, even though the story ran right around the time when the once tepid recovery from the previous recession kicked into gear and the economy began producing jobs.

And don’t think there is any political bias to these headlines. We saw them early in the 1990s recovery, when a Democrat was president, and early in the decade before that, when a Republican was in office.

This is just the media being the media. Don’t be fooled.

Even as far back as 1938, as a prelude to the long and job-producing post-war boom perhaps, the Times ran a headline saying: “Jobless Recovery,” and attempted to explain this “apparent anomaly.”

It’s not such an anomaly. Just a matter of perspective and patience. Any good reader of history knows that when a recovery comes, jobs will, after a good long lull, eventually follow.

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