The price of U.S. recession is paid in jobs

Mon Aug 3, 2009 4:24pm EDT
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By Emily Kaiser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Long after President Barack Obama's first term ends in 2013, millions of U.S. families will still be paying the price for the recession.

From auto workers in Detroit too old for retraining, to Hispanic migrants in Arizona with no homes to build, to new college graduates competing with experienced workers for scarce jobs, more and more people are facing long-lasting unemployment.

Since the recession began in December 2007, the jobless rate has climbed 4.6 percentage points to 9.5 percent, the biggest jump since the Great Depression. Worse, the mean duration of unemployment is now almost 6 months, the highest on record.

Although Obama frequently points out he inherited the recession from his predecessor, George W. Bush, the fallout will frame his legacy, presenting a quandary for a president elected on a slogan of "Yes We Can."

Unless Obama figures out how to repair the job market, the can-do attitude sparked by his election may be replaced by despair, leaving deep economic and social scars that undermine his political goals.


Joblessness typically rises during recessions as weak demand prompts companies to cut production and jobs. Normally those workers are rehired once the economy recovers.

For example, in the back-to-back recessions of the early 1980s, the jobless rate peaked at 10.8 percent. Thanks to a strong recovery, that receded to 8.3 percent one year after the downturn ended.   Continued...

<p>Unemployed medical engineer Jim Lynch, 49, listens during an orientation meeting at the Michigan Works office in Lansing, Michigan, July 22, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>