Economists have said that the Great Recession ended in June of 2009. A good number of Americans would probably disagree with that assessment. With the national unemployment rate stuck over 8 percent now for 42 consecutive months, it hardly seems like the economic winter will ever give way to spring. Long-term unemployment continues to be a challenge. Industries like manufacturing, construction, and even the vilified banking sector have been utterly laid waste when compared to employment rolls before all the chaos began.
Officially, long term unemployment is described as being out of work longer than 27 weeks. According to the latest figures some 5.4 million people qualify as being long-term unemployed. After 27 weeks, millions are described as either ‘marginally attached’ to the labor force, meaning looking for work but can’t find any, or have stopped looking for work altogether. The government has no accurate figure for those who have stopped looking.
The job outlook for construction workers between 2010 and 2020 was supposed to increase 21 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Helpers in all construction trades was predicted at 40 percent. The reality is very different however. Currently, the percentage of unemployed construction workers is 12.8 percent, down from 17.2 percent in March of 2012. These figures represent all phases of construction. The national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent. Thus, construction workers are almost one-third more likely to be unemployed that the average citizen.
The manufacturing sector is another source of unfulfilled employment hopes. Before the recession began the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent. By 2009, this figure had soared to 12.1 percent. Millions of jobs were outsourced to India and China. Many factories closed, leaving small towns across the country devastated. Fortunately, things have started to thaw somewhat. As of June 2012, the unemployment rate for the manufacturing sector was 6.9 percent, a little better than the national average.
Banking has also had its share of employment troubles. At the beginning of the recession, unemployment in the financial sector was low, about 2.7 percent. In 2010, this number nearly tripled to 6.6 percent. Thousands of tellers, mail clerks, and traders found themselves without a job. Banking titans, such as Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein lost billions in toxic debt, but were still employed. By June of 2012, as in manufacturing, the banking sector has stabilized at 5 percent.
In conclusion, the Great Recession is over according to government officials. High long term unemployment in crucial sectors indicates otherwise. Millions have lost their livelihoods, and millions more have stopped looking for work. Many have lost their homes and have had their lives shattered. The economic winter continues.