In the immediate excitement of announcing 288,000 “jobs,” most commentary, taking its tone from President Obama’s “we’re making progress” statement, ignored or glossed over the real story: The disturbing trend to lower-quality, part-time jobs. Last month the ranks of involuntary part-timers swelled to 7.5 million, compared to 4.4 million in 2007. Way too many adults are dependent on the low-wage, part-time jobs that teenagers would normally fill. On top of that unwelcome record, the number of people who’ve been out of work for more than six months is around 3 million, well above the historical average. And the proportion of Americans working or looking for work is near its lowest level since the late 1970s.
Look, I get it — when you announce anything new or the rollout of a new stat, positivity has to be the order of the day. But the jobs picture in America is not great. Talked about it before, here and here. You could argue it’s a demographic issue, and that’s part of it — but it could be a systemic issue as well. Maybe we need to think like Europeans on this one. Regardless, the picture is not that great.