The National Bureau of Economic Research has announced that the recession ended last June.
When I read that, I thought there was a typo. “It ended last June? As in June 2009? Someone call the NBER, they’ve got this all wrong!”
But, as it turns out, there was no typo. At least in an economic sense, the recession is officially over.
The reason that I – and probably almost everyone else in the country, except the eight economists on the NBER committee – completely missed the end of what will probably go down as the worst financial downturn of our lifetimes is that many of us are still feeling the “lagging indicators” of the recession.
History says that these lagging indicators, which include unemployment, often take years to recover to pre-recession levels — something that is clearly illustrated in the unemployment rate. In June 2009, unemployment was at 9.5 percent. A year after the recession ended, in June 2010, unemployment was still at 9.5 percent. In August, it was 9.6 percent.
Yet despite a persistently high unemployment rate, there are signs that we’re slowly moving in a positive direction. Below is a roundup of some recent good news from the world of employment, which gives us a reason to hope that someday in the not-too-far-off future, lagging indicators will be no more:
College hiring: According to a recent survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to hire 13.5 percent more new college graduates in 2011 than they did in 2010.
Holiday hiring: The outsourcing firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas has released a study on holiday hiring trends that says retailers expect to hire 600,000 holiday employees this year, up from 500,000 last year and 384,300 in 2008.
Health care hiring: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the health care industry added 23,000 jobs in August.
Temporary hiring: The temporary employment category has added 392,000 jobs since September 2009, according to the BLS.
Long-term unemployment: The BLS also reported that the number of people unemployed for longer than six months dropped by 323,000 in August.
Pay increase: Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.6 percent.
Graduate school: In mid-September, the Council of Graduate Schools reported that first-time enrollment in graduate school increased by 5.5 percent from 2008-2009.
How do you feel about the end of the recession? Is it just an economic formality, or do you think we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?