And what is death? she asked.


From the 1940s through the 1980s, recovery was accompanied by significant job growth—on the order of between 10 and 20 percent after four years. In our last three recessions, by contrast, we actually continued to lose jobs through the first months of “recovery,” and then added jobs at a glacial pace.

In 2003-4 and again over the last three years, this combination is often passed off as a curiosity: a “jobless recovery” in which the economy gets better but the labor market doesn’t. But that’s not really what’s happening. Job growth is slow because the recovery is slow. From the 1940s through the 1980, recoveries were relatively short and robust—usually adding about 10 percent to GDP in the first two years after the trough of the business cycle. In the 1991-3 recovery, GDP grew only 6 percent. In 2001-3, GDP grew only 5.9 percent. In the first two years of our current recovery (through July 2011), GDP grew only 4.4 percent. That’s not a jobless recovery. It’s no recovery at all.

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photo { Allen Frame }