In addition, an editorial recently dropped that said the administration is mulling whether or not this unemployment crisis is "structural." Talking with some random people recently, I got the sense that many think the unemployment crisis is primarily a structural problem, not suitable for further monetary or fiscal policy. So I'm going to spend some time in the future readdressing these concerns every chance I get; sorry if it becomes repetitive.
And I'll do that here with two quick things that I noticed while checking out today's unemployment numbers.
In 2009, there was a meme about how the recession was really a "mancession" because male-dominated fields like construction and finance took a larger hit and unemployment was going to hurt men much more than women. This story had a lot of legs then, when unemployment rose much more rapidly among men than women.
I argued at the time that this was a false dichotomy, and that the evolving nature of families securing homes and benefits leads to "two-income traps" where either parent in a family being unemployed put the family at risk. The idea that men are more vulnerable than women ignores how vulnerable households themselves have become. But this story does have a bit of a "structural unemployment" part to it, because it assumes men are going to be harder to employ in the post-recovery period.
Here's what those two look like now:
And plotting the difference between the two:
As you can see, male unemployment has stayed the same or trended slightly down (down 0.4% over the 12 month period) and female unemployment continues to trend up (up 0.4% over the past 12 month period). So I think we are seeing a move towards a greater gender parity in unemployment. To whatever extent the recession was hitting men more than women, that is now disappearing rapidly.
It just jumped up 0.4%, and is back to roughly where it was months ago. (Were census workers primarily college educated?) Five percent unemployment seems low, but remember it was 2-3% for most of the past 10 years. The economy isn't rapidly absorbing those with higher education, and students graduating from college with the freshest skills aren't finding work.
Mike Konczal is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.