By Ed Carson, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY:
The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February vs. expectations for 206,000, continuing a recent trend of decent hiring activity. The unemployment rate held at 8.3%.
But America remains mired in the longest jobs recession since the Great Depression. It’s been 49 months since the U.S. hit peak employment in January 2008. And with nonfarm payrolls still 5.33 million below their old high, the jobs slump will continue for several more years.
The previous jobs recession record — 47 months — came during and after the comparatively mild 2001 recession, which saw unemployment climb to only 6.3%. The average job recovery time since 1980 is 29 months, not including the current slump.
The labor market won’t truly return to health until some 10 million positions are created to rehire all those who lost their jobs and to absorb new workers.
The longest jobs recession in decades coincides, not coincidentally, with the longest stretch of anemic economic performance on record.
U.S. gross domestic profit hasn’t risen 4% or more in any quarter since the first quarter of 2006. That’s by far the longest such stretch on record going back to 1950. The only other sizable sub-par stretch was a three-year span from late 2000 to mid-2003 during the prior recession and sluggish recovery.
After the severe 1981-82 recession, the U.S. economy enjoyed a five-quarter stretch of 7% or more — following a 5.1% annualized gain.
The U.S. economy is up just 6.2% above the level at the end of the recession vs. 14.9% in the 10 quarters after the 1981-82 slump.
President Obama may take hope that the U.S. economy has picked up from near-stall speed to a modest pace in recent months. But after the mild 1990-1991 downturn, the U.S. economy rose tepidly for a few quarters before growing more than 4% in every quarter of 1992. That still wasn’t enough to keep the first President Bush from losing to Bill Clinton.
And nobody is predicting 4% growth in 2012.