Today’s surprisingly disappointing jobs report should temper recent optimism of an improving labor market in 2014. The climb back to normal levels of employment remains steep. Most notably, the labor force shrank and the share of the population with a job remains near the low to which it plunged in the Great Recession, and long-term unemployment remains historically high. The most urgent measure on Congress’s agenda should be restoring the emergency federal unemployment insurance benefits it allowed to lapse at the end of the year. Policymakers should also be looking at other measures to speed up the recovery and help the long-term unemployed find jobs.
Below are some charts to show how the new figures look in historical context. Click here for my full statement with further analysis.