Floyd Norris notes an astounding data point:

“For the first time since the Depression, the American economy has added virtually no jobs in the private sector over a 10-year period. The total number of jobs has grown a bit, but that is only because of government hiring.

The accompanying charts show the job performance from July 1999, when the economy was booming and companies were complaining about how hard it was to find workers, through July of this year, when the economy was mired in the deepest and longest recession since World War II. For the decade, there was a net gain of 121,000 private sector jobs, according to the survey of employers conducted each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In an economy with 109 million such jobs, that indicated an annual growth rate for the 10 years of 0.01 percent.”

The starting point for the past 10 years is right at the peak of the dot com employment boom. But even taking thay into account, this is an unreal datapoint . . .


chart via NYT


Job Growth Lacking in the Private Sector
NYT, August 7, 2009


Category: Employment

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

48 Responses to “Zero 10 Year US Job Creation”

  1. Bruce in Tn says:

    The home health care jobs will continue to increase, as they must.

  2. It looks like the two main culprits are off shoring for cheaper manufacturing and the boomer demographic

  3. some_guy_in_a_cube says:

    Uh oh, that chart is about to go steeply negative – the American economy is about to become a great job destroyer!

    See you at SPX 150.

  4. call me ahab says:

    how can jobs expand in the private sector? When you are looking at the ability to outsource globally- to the cheapest labor markets-

    big successful companies such as Apple don’t even make their products here- so how does that help the American worker?

    Sure- it makes the products less expensive to manufacture- and therefore increases the profit margin- but less and less people are making living wages and are requiring the assistance of the federal government via food stamps and other social programs – so they can survive-

    is that the new America?- 1 in 9 on food stamps- placating the masses with scraps- while the powerful and connected get theirs?

  5. farmera1 says:

    No jobs, no health care, no future, what an accomplishment.

    Let me count the ways that made this amazing “feet” possible:

    1. Exporting Jobs to country’s where $.50/hour is the norm helps the bottom line so much (who says this cann’t go on forever)

    2. Wealth transfer to the uber rich (Let them eat cake, see one above, tax laws, deregulation aka trickle down will work someday)

    3. Wage earners competing with labor from Mexico and China, etc. (see a little competition is always good, for the bottom line)

    4. Financial industry taking a higher and higher percentage of GDP (Shuffling money from one pocket to the other and taking the vig is oh so good, for the people on top).

    5. The FED kept the party going by creating liquidity, making it easy to borrow and ignoring any consequences, after all what is deregulation for. (Derivatives are good for the common man, to paraphrase Greenspan).

    6. Balance of trade deficit, not to worry, who cares. (The Chinese are addicts, they can’t stop buying our debt and we’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em);

    7. Compounding debts faster than GDP, who cares debts don’t matter (After all they didn’t matter to Ronnie and his appointee Greenspan pointed out that our debt was small as a percent of GDP compared to other industrialized countries).

    8. Energy crisis, what energy crisis, party on.

    In summary I’d say the hourly workers in this country have been of so screwed for oh so long, down looks up.

    We are living in a time where the younger generation seemingly has a lower standard of living than their preds. I see lots of 20 YOs, no car, moving back in with Mom and Dad, can’t even rent, no medical access. I see nothing that says this will change anytime soon. But hey living through the bubbles and profits at all cost eras was fun while it lasted. Who cares about tomorrow, we can just party on in the mean time. But I think the band is getting tired and this might be their last song for a while.

  6. davossherman@gmail.com says:

    one of the best charts on unemployment that i have seen, many thanks!

  7. EricTyson says:

    Interesting chart Barry but it would appear that there’s not the kind of correlation between the 10-year employment numbers and stock market returns that one might think.

    The recent multi-year decline looks most similar to the late 50s/early 60s and the late 70s/early 80s – two launching points for terrific bull runs. If you overweighted stocks when the 10-year # above bottomed, you would have done well.

  8. jc says:

    The number of illegals grew tremendously over those same years, mostly Mexicans taking work that didn’t require documents or much English. The amount of remitted payments back to Mexico and places like that was an early indicator of economic woes here.

    We can argue about it politically but a lot of jobs were siphoned off. Even now here at the Jersey shore there are virtually no anglo lawn guys and even most of the home building crews are foreigners

  9. @ farmera1

    The boomers are going to need someone to wipe their noses for them soon and prices have to come down to match demand. The MTV lifestyle of the ’80s and ’90s may not be in the near future for many of these kids but much will come back. That is assuming the government doesn’t seize and distort all means of production before then

    On the positive side many of these kids are learning the hard lesson of the evil that debt is that their parents did not or refused to learn themselves. I know, being a GenXer from poorer roots, that lesson was thrust on me following in the boomer’s economic path. I’m glad I learned it now. It wasn’t fun but I am starting to cash in in the second half of my life. I just hope my health holds out long enough for me to prosper into retirement

    I think the worst lesson they will have is getting adjusted to not having the perks they had when growing up. That will be hard but it will make them appreciate what they do have all the more. They will also probably truly work for anything they own so their will be a sense of accomplishment to it. They are a more social generation as well so they won’t need as many of the gadgets because they have the friends

  10. dead hobo says:

    The Fed has used up $244B out of $300B of and the facility to perform these injections ends sometime in September. The implication is that the market will retreat when the liquidity is removed. How far is an open question since there is no mention of lapping it up at any time.

    The 10 year is rapidly approaching 4%. This might create a tradable opportunity. If rates go too high, housing may be damaged. The market may be temporarily punked in order to boost purchases of UST debt, lowering the rate temporarily. Shorts will be fooled for the 45th time and later be squeezed when the market rises in response to the massive liquidity.

    I also suspect the Lehman level is the absolute top of the managed pump.

  11. dblwyo says:

    Actually it’s much worse than the most of the headlines and much of the reporting tells us…though the reporting is getting somewhat better. First off, on the short-run, Employment was down -4.2% YoY. To put that in perspective the figures for the last seven months are -2.7,-3.1, -3.5,-3.8,-3.9, -4.1 and -4.2%. Worse, while initial claims are topping, continuing claims are rising but many l.t. unemployed are exhausting their benefits. Meanwhile the Employment:Population Ratio is deteriorating badly…in fact it’s falling off a cliff-diving (see this chart from CalculatedRisk: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pMscxxELHEg/SnxDyuVXlzI/AAAAAAAAGCw/dxx1ywA5fS4/s320/EmploymentPopJuly2009.jpg)

    MUCH worse imho is that we are very far from keeping up with breakeven job requirements. If your figure of merit is 150K jobs/month for breakeven we’re now about -12 Million jobs in the hole. In other words just to get back to zero we must create 12 million new jobs during a “recovery”; and that’s without allowing for increased job losses in the future (which we know are coming). If you want to see all that in chart form then take a gander at these two composite charts:

  12. km4 says:

    Can the MSM and Obamanomics continue to sell the ruse of a dysfunctional economy totally dependent on increasing debt and financing engineering to John and Joan Q. Public ?

    Unfortunately probably so….

  13. Cursive says:

    WRT zero job growth in the last 1o years, I hate to fathom what the real data are. The government data are horribly wrong, e.g. the birth/death adjustment in the monthly unemployment numbers. I was just at ZH reading a post about the head of the SEC enforcement division joking about market manipulation in an address to the NY bar association:

    All that being said, I’m pretty proud of my own 100-day accomplishments. So how have things changed? Before I joined the Division in March, the Dow was struggling around 6500 points. Now the Dow is over 9200. So am I really responsible for a 41% increase in the Dow? I am, and I’d explain it, but it’s very complicated. It involves algorithms, and calculus, and a black box and other … stuff. Now, when I ran this speech by my wife, she looked (kind of like some of you out there) a little incredulous. She said, “you’re not claiming credit for the stock market, are you? While you’re at it, are you also taking credit for the mild hurricane season or the sharp decrease in lethal shark attacks world-wide.” Well I am, and I’d explain it, but it’s very complicated. It involves algorithms, and calculus, and a black box and other … stuff.

  14. Mannwich says:

    So much for the idea that global “free trade” (whatever that means) would bring prosperity to all here in the U.S. It’s brought prosperity to a few, for sure, but on a whole are we really better off as a country? I think not. How long do we wait for all of those new, “better”, and “more highly paid” jobs to arrive? Another 10 years?

  15. willid3 says:

    while this isn’t really news to me, i have seen so many different signs that it has been true. and the big slide started in early 2001, and it has been accelerating ever since. and there was that big slide in incomes in this country, we are back to 2000 levels of income (and that was last year). and km4, that was also sold by the GOP before 2009, so we can’t exactly say that its a party affiliation. its more of sign of how much power that wall street and business has, and that we as citizens don’t. we only count about once every 2-4 years (when we vote) . after which, the oligarchy take back over.

  16. Olympus Marx says:

    Uh, why does the chart go over into the Macro Notes?

  17. willid3 says:

    Mannwich, free trade was only a cover up for eliminating jobs in this country while selling as much on credit (from wall street) as possible. they always told us we got some thing from it (cheap goods! on credit from wall street of course!). and there were going to be new jobs (just didn’t know what they were or when they would arrive. and they delivered! no jobs! but lots lower incomes!!!)

  18. Mannwich says:

    @willid3: Oh, I totally agree. Was just reaffirming the point that this was all merely a ruse to con We the Sheeple. It looks like it’s worked quite swimmingly thus far for powerful and elite in this country. The uber-wealthy in this country won’t be entirely happy until they have all the wealth at everyone else’s expense (and even then, they won’t be entirely happy…), including the country’s, but then again, all is OK and patriotic if they or anyone puts a “Support the Troops” sticker on one of their monster SUV’s and yachts.

  19. call me ahab says:

    willid’ right- it’s not that Obama sucks- it’s that they all suck- the old saying-

    “money is power” holds true

    on a grass roots level- Ron Paul pulled in mucho dineros by small contributors on his web site- so it can be done on a grass roots level- but Ron Paul is the wrong candidate with the right ideas- we need someone that believes in the Paul ideas that is electable


    welcome back-

    the highly paid jobs in manufacturing are “gone baby gone”- almost makes me wish for a outright trade war

  20. km4 says:

    @willid3 Says:August 8th, 2009 at 10:44 am
    km4, that was also sold by the GOP before 2009, so we can’t exactly say that its a party affiliation.
    Agree …..the cost of Bush to America from 2000- 2008 was about $32 Trillion dollars in total liabilities and unfunded commitments for future payments.

    Obama inherited a shit bag of immense proportions but Obamanomics is continuing to sell the ruse of a dysfunctional economy totally dependent on increasing debt and financing engineering to John and Joan Q. Public

  21. jc says:

    Trimtabs vs BLS. I tried to find multi year comparisons of BLS final jobs to BLS initial estimates (our headline stuff) and trimtabs estimates. I was only able to find 20 months in 2006 and 2008 but a couple things are clear:

    Trimtabs is a LOT closer to BLS final than is BLS intitial estimates on an annualized basis. There are large monthly variations in all directions.

    In 2006 during strong job gains Trimtabs overestimated by 7% the BLS final and BLS estimates were under by 33%

    In 2008 (first 9 months) of big job losses Trimtabs overestimated BLS final by9% and BLS estimates were under by 37%.

  22. Daffyorbugs says:


    How sophisticated is home health-care as an industry? Is it highly organized or mostly free-lance?

  23. dougc says:


  24. Onlooker from Troy says:

    Daunting, truly daunting. What’s going to happen to our social structure as we go forward with no appreciable job creation for so much of the country? We barely got off the mat in ’02, and only due to the housing bubble that created so many very well paid jobs (high school grad, former waiters making 6 figures at shady mortgage brokers, etc.) , but was doomed to be short-lived. All those middle class folks who raked in the bucks selling mortgages and houses, and building said houses.

    They fooled themselves into thinking it would go on and they lived it up. Now it’s gone, poof! And they don’t have a clue what to do next. All the career counseling types say, “government, education, and health care.” But how far can that take us? There has to be some real wealth producing industry at the foundation of it. The finance sector is just a big drain on the economy, not a productivity machine that produces real wealth.

    And this is one of the huge headwinds that the “new bull market” touters ignore as they whistle past the graveyard, trying to convince us that the market is foretelling great economic growth in the future, they just don’t know what it is yet. For them it’s all just a leap of faith based on historical comps that they find convenient to make their case, while ignoring the inconvenient facts.

  25. dougc says:


  26. franklin411 says:

    Education *is* the single most important wealth creating industry in any society.

  27. gregh says:

    i wonder if this includes contracts, freelancers – non permanent/full time jobs. It would seem that in the last decade many hours of work have transferred from perm/full time jobs to contractors.

    Other thing scary is that even the private growth areas like healthcare are government related or subsized

  28. Daffyorbugs says:


    thanks, looks like a wide open field.

  29. TheInterest says:


    Interesting that the “technology boom” that occurred should have been represented in the chart by much more than just +2.5%. I thought that as we lost manufacturing ~ 5-6% that these jobs were supposed to be moved over to technology jobs.

    How does the H1-B program of shipping in low cost labor to replace high priced technology workers relate to the lack of technology job growth and lack of job growth overall? During the late 90′s the annual cap of 65,000 H1-B visas were continually met. Congress up’d the amount to 195,000 during the early 2000′s but the recession then made sure the cap never got hit. The cap of 65,000 has been around for the last 7 or 8 years. The estimated accumulated amount of jobs given to foreigners over the last 10 years would be 750,000 job! Is that counted in the above stats?

  30. jc says:

    Trimtabs Biederman points out a number of flaws in the BLS estimating system, oversampling some industries, undersampling others, undersampling small employers and services and releasing their preliminary report after only completing half their sample! The admin had plenty of reasons to gild this lily – political and economic. By rolling out a very closely watched economic number that surpised to the upside they continue to stoke the stock market and at this point that “wealth effect” is about the only hope to get the US consumer back into the game, their incomes have plunged and the wealth effect of the home ATM has vaporized. If there are major revisions to the BLS estimates a few months down the road it won’t capture the attention of the MSM

    What really strikes me about the July BLS preliminary estimate surprise was how much lower they were than other surveys that have different methodologies and the consensus number. Either everybody else, using a wide variety of methods were very wrong, or the BLS prelim was WAYYYY off. The BLS is 40% lower than an average of other estimates, some of which have proven to be more accurate than the BLS prelim estimates, and the BLS prelims have been off more than 40% half the months I looked at.


  31. wunsacon says:

    Our government should issue new currency without pretending we’ll have to pay it back. That introduces uncertainty as to whether they’ll do more. But, it removes a uncertainty over the question “how are we going to pay back all this debt?”

    The money (cash+credit) supply just halved. Or worse. Here’s what I would do to stem the deflationary slide and to simultaneously reduce the pernicious boom/bust effect of FRB going forward:
    (A) Greatly reduce the fractional ratio.
    (B) Issue new money directly to individuals — an equal amount per capita — rather than to the banks.

    That would stop deflation without rewarding those people&institutions most responsible for digging this deep hole we’re standing in.

  32. Onlooker from Troy says:

    Hmmm, did someone say something? Bruce, did you hear that? Naw, must have been my imagination.

  33. jc says:

    WASHINGTON – Using better-than-expected jobs numbers to press his top domestic priority, President Barack Obama is arguing that overhauling the health care system is essential to the country’s economic well-being.

    “We’ve begun to put the brakes on this recession and … the worst may be behind us,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address

    This increases my suspicion that Friday’s July BLS preliminary report was massaged for political purposes.

  34. tawm says:

    C’mon, complaints against “off-shoring” and political posturing miss the mark. Labor has simply become too expensive — it’s not the wages, but the cost of regulations, compliance, liability costs / defending against lawsuits, affirmative action/diversity, disability, benefits, etc. Jobs are simply UNAFFORDABLE.

    There is a sick logic in what is happening: the more our society and economy deteriorates, the more government will be able to step in and fill the void — sometimes forcefully. Government has the upper hand, and it is crushing all other institutions not in sync with its goal.

  35. willid3 says:

    tawn, without labor, we don’t have an economy (after all 70% of the economy is consumer. guess who that is? people who work for a living out number by thousands or millions those who dont). and it has little to do with regulations (they haven’t changed in almost a decade, and the last administration couldn’t find a regulation that couldn’t ignore unless it helped business in some way), liability costs haven’t changed much in a decade (even the insurers who insure doctors says that true when under oath) , the rest of these are haven’t changed this decade either so have little to no impact .

    now if you want to complain about health care benefits, then you have a point.
    but thats the health care system we have. the highest costs with the least effective results in the world

    without jobs there is fewer customers to buy goods or services. not if or and about that.
    that was the wall street program (experiment) that we just tried. and given the results it was huge failure.
    the government has had to step in because the private sector failed to keep up its end of this social compact. its involvement is an indictment of private sector failure.

  36. wunsacon says:

    >> C’mon, complaints against “off-shoring” and political posturing miss the mark. Labor has simply become too expensive

    Too expensive to pay 1/3rd of all salary to the top execs, who now pay themselves bonuses thanks to their chummy relations with Congress?

    “Miss the mark?” You can’t be serious.

  37. tawm says:

    Wait guys — it sounds like we’re partly in violent agreement. My point is that the costs to businesses of employing people are destroying jobs — which is a bad thing. Many of the costs beyond wages (“regulations, compliance, liability costs / defending against lawsuits, affirmative action/diversity, disability, benefits, etc.”) are government-instigated and poorly thought out in terms of macro impact. In the end, the government provides disincentives to employment, in spite of what the pols say. I am not defending poor management or executive rape of shareholder resources, but the government is making a bad situation worse.

  38. Greg0658 says:

    tawm I think its more like the Generals of SuperCorps have more power than its customers or the government

    “Resistance is futile – you will be assimilated”
    “Surrender” by Cheap Trick.

    its the game thing we humans do for the hell of it and gets us guys chicks

  39. gregh says:

    Floyd Norris confirmed – “This comes from the establishment survey, which excludes self employed.”

    Self Employment has greatly increased in this decade hasn’t it…..? The inner Franklin411 in me thinks the chart might be less nasty if you included this form of “job creation/growth”

  40. willid3 says:

    tawn, but none of those expenses have changed in a decade. in fact in some cases they are much lower now than before. but the fact remains that the private sector is the one who failed its part in the social compact. and the rest sounds a lot like whining from business, who so far has gotten its way on almost every thing, but wants to have every thing its way, including taking as big advantage of its workers as possible. while paying the top of the pyramid the most it ever has. if you want to see what is hurting business, its that and maybe health care. but business doesn’t want to address those issues because its happy with them. and business has done more than stupid management choices, it has destroyed it customers, when that hits the tipping point they will all be gone by their own hands.

  41. jc says:

    “This comes from the establishment survey, which excludes self employed.”

    Self employed is the kinder, gentler way of saying unemployed…

  42. farmera1 says:

    What this country really needs is for the workers in China and Mexico (India, Vietnam etc) to unionize. That would increase the consumption in China, help our balance of payments and maybe bring back some of the jobs business so willingly sent overseas under the banner of globalization and short term profits. What a plan. Now how do you get the Chinese to allow unions.

    By the way for those that say labor is now too expensive in the US, the average CEO (and I would maintain all of upper management follows suit) has gone from 42 times average hourly compensation in 1980 to 531 times in 2000. Hum the average person maybe getting too much in the US but the average CEO is
    stealing. Then if you want to talk perks it gets even worse. You might want to read Boggle’s book, THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF CAPITALISM for a good perspective on the out of wak pay to upper management.

    The costs are out of wak in this country, but it isn’t in the hourly worker area.

  43. gloppie says:

    Free trade is a sham. Read Dr. Batra’s “Myth of Free Trade” for details.

  44. Doc at the Radar Station says:

    (B) Issue new money directly to individuals — an equal amount per capita — rather than to the banks.

    I think this is the most elegant solution. I suppose the Fed could issue everybody debit cards and they could load them up with fresh money and then put an expiration date on it each time it’s loaded. They give every citizen that’s filed a tax return in the previous year a debit card. They load up an equal amount on the card every month. You have to spend it in that month or you lose it. If you use it to *pay down debt* you get double your money. Keep it up until you see REAL inflation starting to happen. When it does, turn it down as needed.

  45. FrancoisT says:

    “My point is that the costs to businesses of employing people are destroying jobs — which is a bad thing. ”

    Read a bit of economics and labor history. Look at the period where tere were no regulations to speak of. Yes, the DIRECT cost to businesses was low…but what about the total cost to society?…including businesses? I’m not saying the regulations are all well-thought of and sensible. (Imagine that!) I’m saying that a no regulations environment brings far worse outcomes to everyone (save a few uber-wealthy) than a regulated environment.

  46. Quantum Mechanic says:

    We need to impose trade tariffs on imported goods inversely proportional to the labor cost for each product. For certain products, such as textiles, since 50% or more of the final price are labor costs, it makes sense to outsource. For high value added products (such as iPods), manufacturing costs are rather small. I bet is below 5% per iPod. Few months ago Nokia moved a cellphone factory from Germany to Romania. When the German workers looked at the numbers, it turned out that Nokia spent “significantly below 5%” on manufacturing costs, according to a Nokia official, while the workers said it was as low as 2%. For Christ’s sake, was outsourcing really necessary in this case? Why can’t we make iPods and iPhones in the US? I’m tired of this “Designed in the USA, Assembled in China” crap. My wife and I are in R&D (both have PhDs in science), but not everyone can be part of “Designed in the USA’. The average citizen probably has few years of community college, where is he/she going to find a job in this country?

    If I look at the graph it seems to me that outsourcing picked up speed starting in 2000, which probably means that IT facilitated it. From concept to a final product, many iterations are required between R&D and manufacturing. In the past, these iterations were fast only if manufacturing and R%D were in close proximity, but starting 2000 broadband communications eliminated this condition. Therefore, expect this trend to continue, unless we come back to our senses and put some small trade tariffs to protect our manufacturing. These tariffs don’t have to be huge… 5% or so would probably do just fine.

  47. hklife says:

    The previous unemployment rate was 9.5 %, then a quarter million more lost their jobs. It must logical then that the unemployment rate drops to 9.4, right?

  48. Jim C says:

    HKlife, if you are standing at one end of the Lincoln Tunnel and 4 cars come out in one minute, does that mean there are less cars in the tunnel now than there were 1 minute ago?

    One other comment, in general, is that boomers are now starting to retire, and many of those jobs have simply been placeholders. Sure, they had a position, but their replacement had already been hired and was just waiting to take over or in other cases that job was really something that could be split up among other people. Where I work, a lot of the retiree’s former responsibilities just get handed out.