U.S. job market regains losses, yet it’s weaker
In this June 6, 2014 photo, cook Kim Jarjabka send out two lunch orders at Coppertop restaurant in Valley City, Ohio. According to research by the National Employment Law Project, restaurants and bars, temporary staffing, and retail account for more than one-third of the job gains in the current recovery. Wages in these sectors average less than $13.34 an hour. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
FILE - In this May 8, 2013 file photo, Jeff Caldwell, 29, a chassis assembly line supervisor, checks a vehicle on the assembly line at the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit. The U.S. economy finally regained the jobs lost during the Great Recession, but the comeback is far from complete. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 file photo, a robot paints brake drums at Webb Wheel Products in Cullman, Ala. The U.S. economy finally regained the jobs lost during the Great Recession, but the comeback is far from complete. Millions of construction and factory jobs have been permanently replaced by new technologies: robots, software and advanced equipment that increases productivity and requires less manpower. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2014, file photo, job seekers sign in before meeting prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. The U.S. economy finally regained the jobs lost during the Great Recession, but the comeback is far from complete. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
The U.S. economy has finally regained the jobs lost to the Great Recession. But go easy on the hallelujahs. The comeback is far from complete.
Friday’s report from the government revealed an economy healing yet marked by deep, lasting scars. The downturn that began 6½ years ago accelerated wrenching changes that have left many Americans feeling worse off than they did the last time the economy had roughly the same number of jobs it does now.
Employers added 217,000 workers in May, more than enough to surpass the 138.4 million jobs that existed when the recession began in December 2007. But even as the unemployment rate has slipped to 6.3 percent from 10 percent at the depth of the recession, the economy still lacks its former firepower.
To many economists, the job figures are both proof of the sustained recovery and evidence of a painful transformation in how Americans earn a living.
“The labor market recovery has been disappointing,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. “Even with the new peak, there is still a great deal of slack.”
There are still 1.49 million construction jobs missing. Factories have 1.65 million fewer workers. Government payrolls have shrunk, taking middle-class pay with them. Local school districts have 255,400 fewer employees. The U.S. Postal Service has shed 194,700 employees. And during the economic recovery, more people have left the job market than entered it.