First Decade without Private Sector Job Growth since the Depression

Friday, August 21, 2009

The fundamental perception of private versus public employment in America has undergone a transformation in the last decade. For the first time since the Great Depression, there has been almost no growth in the private sector. Although the capitalistic nature of the US encourages entrepreneurship and competition within the private sector, the stunted economic growth has made a significant impact in the composition of employment. This change is in stark contrast to 1999 data when the economy was robust and companies were constantly looking to hire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a net gain of 121,000 private sector jobs since 1999, which equates to an annual growth rate for the last ten years of 0.01 percent.

The long-term annual growth rate for private sector jobs had not fallen below 1 percent since the early 1960s. In the last decade, the fields where job loss was most prevalent include making computer and electronic equipment, falling at an annual rate of 4.4 percent; jobs within manufacturing, declining at a rate of 3.7 percent; and automakers, losing jobs at a rate of 6.7 percent. Although known for its consumerism, America also lost retail jobs at a rate of 0.2 percent. There are now fewer jobs in construction, despite growth for a good part of the decade.
Not all prospects for employment were bleak. Health care jobs grew. So did home health care employment at an annual rate of 5 percent, or rather, a staggering total increase of 60 percent. Likewise, the field of management and technical consulting jumped up to an annual growth rate of 5 percent. Additionally, there were job gains in education and in a number of services, which includes lawyers (0.7 percent), accountants (0.9 percent), and computer system designers (2.4 percent).
Job growth is expected to resume as the recession comes to an end, however there is no data to support a reverse in trends that favor a more service-oriented economy.
-Jacquelyn Lickness
Job Growth Lacking in the Private Sector (by Floyd Norris, New York Times)


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