June 19th, 2014
Job Market Hits New High for First Time Since 2008
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After over six years, the United States has finally hit a new all-time peak in total job numbers. The Department of Labor’s jobs report shows the economy adding 217,000 jobs in May, an increase that has pushed the total beyond that of January 2008 and established a new high.
Historically, as the American population has steadily grown, establishing new peaks in national employment numbers hasn’t been quite this rare of an occasion. The recession beginning in late 2007, however, took a healthy chunk out of our employment levels and it took quite some time to grow back. Starting with a large dip in early 2008, the U.S. economy lost over 8 million jobs through the next two years. Four years after that low point, however, the job market is starting to look healthy again, with a new jobs peak and unemployment down to just 6.3 percent after a high point of closer to 10.
The new peak, of course, doesn’t mean everything is perfectly rosy. For one, the new jobs we’re seeing don’t line up perfectly with the ones we’ve lost.
Fields like manufacturing, construction and government work were hit particularly hard by the recession, and many of those jobs have yet to return. In their stead, we’re seeing growth in health care and the service industry – places like restaurants, retail spaces and hotels. Many of these new jobs are less attractive in terms of salary and benefits when compared to those we’ve lost, so the higher number of total jobs might be somewhat misleading.
The new jobs are also not equally distributed geographically. Some states which were particularly hard hit by the recession have yet to fully recover, while some others, most notably North Dakota and Texas, are excelling instead.
It was, of course, always unlikely that jobs would return in exact number to the fields and states that took the heaviest hits. Any sort of economic setback leads to some degree of restructuring and resettling. However, for those who lost better paying jobs and are only seeing new opportunities in different industries with worse benefits, it’s worth wondering if previous salary levels will ever be attainable. The emergence of higher quality, more desirable jobs is certainly an aspect of the recovery that many will be eagerly waiting on.
Still, despite some reservations, this is clearly a good piece of news, and it’s not the only one we’ve seen recently. Last week we detailed some positive signs in the housing market, and the Wall Street Journal correctly notes that a more impressive jobs market could lead to more confident consumers with more money to spend. America’s economic recovery, however slow, should lead to greater stability when it comes to budgeting and credit health as well. As I wrote in a housing article last week, those who are economically distressed are also most vulnerable when it comes to their credit. Hopefully, these positive developments will help more people make the budgeting and credit decisions that are right for them and constructive for their futures.
Mike Goldstein is a Content Writer at Credit Karma. Since joining the team in June 2013, he’s been delivering the financial know-how on the daily. When away from work, you can find Mike watching hockey, Twittering for hours and frequenting trivia nights.
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