Chart of the Week: How This Jobs Recovery Stacks Up

I’ve run variations of this chart so many times, it seems redundant to do so once again. But since the debate with Cody generated 60 comments(!), there’s an obvious interest in this subject.

How This Jobs Recovery Stacks Up:


Source: Contrary Investor

The last Recession did not see consumer spending slow terribly. And, we were coming off employment levels that were artificially high — or at least unusually elevated — courtesy of the Tech/Telecom/Internet boom and bubble.

These factors, combined with a very "generous" Federal Reserve, is why the Recession was so mild. But that means we still have yet to feel the full hangover from the party. My suspicion is the bill for that bash has yet to be paid in full.

The invoice is likely to be coming some time later this year . . .

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Mark commented on Jun 3

    Cody doesn’t want to “get it”. The Code-ster just wants to TRADE. As long as his pet stocks are doing well, he couldn’t care less. When it’s time to exit, he does. Until then, he talks the bullish spin because it’s consistent with how he’s trading.

  2. whocares commented on Jun 3

    Cody’s wrong , you’re right…. next

  3. edhopper commented on Jun 3

    Here’s a question. How much of that job growth was due to the now deflating housing bubble?

  4. move on commented on Jun 3

    Cody’s up 18% ytd…. he sure is a dope !

  5. Isaac Greten commented on Jun 3

    I wonder how much of this can be explained by boomers entering the workforce in the 70s and beginning to leave the workforce now?

  6. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Jun 3

    “The last Recession did not see consumer spending slow terribly.”

    I attribute most of that to rising real estate values over the past 6 years and the easy access to that equity through real estate loans and line products.

  7. algernon commented on Jun 3


    You expess succinctly both the lower employment growth & perspective that enriches the understanding of it.

  8. camille roy commented on Jun 3

    Some part of this low employment growth is related to (1) outsourcing and (2) illegal immigration.

    The factors Barry mentions are also important. With this triple whammy, the ‘great American job machine’ is no more. It means a future of rising inequality. But, lucky for us capitalists, there won’t be any outright dissatisfaction and unrest. There are two reasons: Americans blame themselves as individuals when anything goes wrong with the system. And, as a consequence, we can get them to kiss rich butt until the cows come home, and they won’t even notice.

  9. cm commented on Jun 3

    camille: I don’t know many local-born Americans, but my hunch is people don’t (exclusively) blame themselves, and make good use of scapegoats (probably varying with their own situation, but unions, trial lawyers, welfare giveaways/social spending on particular demographic groups, and not to forget people of particular religious denomination running the financial system and the govt. are popular things I hear). But neither do they blame those they should.

  10. cm commented on Jun 3

    The graph looks like a nice parametric plot where the slope of job recovery declines pretty much linearly with time.

    Somebody brought up boomers. Their “population hump” certainly also moves through the age line linearly.

  11. Mark commented on Jun 3


    Who cares? That’s six months of performance. Tell me Cody’s peak to peak numbersand let’s compare. Or did he wipe out from 2000-2002? Let us know so we can all join you in the I Love Cody mosh pit.

  12. Zephyr commented on Jun 3

    Each recovery has had less job growth than the one before it… for 30 years now. This is not coincidence. There is definitely a very powerful long-term trend at work here.

  13. moveon commented on Jun 3

    mark…….he’s up 12%/ yr. last 6 years , s.d. of 12% , max drawdown 4%…. .. how about u genius?

  14. Idaho_Spud commented on Jun 3

    I can make 100% betting a whole stack of chips on black in roulette. Doesn’t make me smart.

  15. Idaho_Spud commented on Jun 3

    I can make 100% betting a whole stack of chips on black in roulette. Doesn’t make me smart.

  16. jj commented on Jun 3

    you should bet on those chips spud-man — proves you belong on this site , cause you’re obviously smart

  17. sp2 commented on Jun 3

    roulette sounds like the way to go spud-man

  18. Mark commented on Jun 3


    Not bad! Link please. That comes close to my performance. :) 13.4 % avg annually July 2000 to date.

  19. Mark commented on Jun 3

    And I absolutely stunk it up last year with a 5.5% return. The truth is, I guess I just don’t like the guy. Sorry.

  20. E-Jay Ng commented on Jun 3

    Barry, you and Stephen Roach are right in saying that employment hardly matches up to the previous cyclical recoveries. But in my opinion, it does not matter and this time, it’s different.

  21. moveon commented on Jun 3

    Mark , it’s ok if you hate him…… i’ve no problem w/ that

  22. mrk commented on Jun 3

    Mark and Moveon….. you too guys should should hug now !!!!

  23. Idaho_Spud commented on Jun 3

    Update.. I won on black. I’m way smarter than Cody! I scoff at his pathetic 18% YTD. What did he make today? Nothing!

  24. Bruce commented on Jun 4

    Very excellent point, Zephyr.

    Each recovery has less employement than the previous recovery.

    A very long term macro trend.

    What do you think this means? Gradual shift of recoveries away from manifesting themsevles as jobs… hmmm. How instead are the recoveries manifesting themselves?

    I wonder if Barry (or anyone else) can find a variable that shows increasing amplitude over each recovery insequence. What might that be?

    Corporate profits? Just hazarding a guess…

    Bruce :-)

  25. wayne commented on Jun 4

    I think that the demographics are a big reason for the tendency of each recovery to produce fewer jobs. The baby boom pig is through the python. Smaller factors include out sourcing and illegal immigration, but these have been partially caused by the diminishing labor pool

  26. Zephyr commented on Jun 4

    I think productivity gains have slowly and steadily reduced the relative need for labor. This is particularly true in the industries that are prone to cyclical employment. In addition, the rising costs of benefits shift the trade-off between labor and capital. So in each recovery, companies increasingly emphasize capital and productivity to meet their growth in output.

    For example, manufacturing employment has been declining in the US since 1979, while manufacturing output has grown. Output per worker keeps increasing.

    In addition, we are shifting out of labor intensive output toward higher valued production, and also to employment that is less cyclical (even if lower valued). So the employment gets less of a cyclical boost on the recovery, even though some jobs are lost (or not created) during the recessions.

    As for the boomers, the population and labor pool was growing faster in the 1970s than it is today. This rate of growth has been declining. So, even with slower job growth we also have lower unemployment. Demograhy is destiny.

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