Monday, January 10, 2011

Comparing recessions: Job losses

The above chart shows job losses (in thousands from the past two recessions). The data are not seasonally adjusted and this shows in some of the occupations. In terms of total numbers, nothing really distinguishes the two recessions. There is a spike in the job losses in the financial sector for the current recession while for the 2001 recession, the spikes were prior and after the recession. The sector with the most job losses were not in the construction industry but rather in the the trade, transportation and utilities sector. There is also an obvious peak in the number of job losses in the construction industry this recession.

The two charts below separate out the two recessions so that the details are clearer.

The rates of job losses however tell a slightly different story:

Here, it is clear that the construction industry has the highest rate of job losses compared to all the other sectors followed by manufacturing and trade. In particular, the peaks of the job loss rates of these sectors are higher than in the previous recession.

The two recessions are again broken down into separate charts below:

If I understand this correctly (and it is likely that I don't) the story that is told by the job loss rates is that even though the job losses appear to be similar in some sectors, the size in these sectors is smaller in the current recession perhaps as a result of the 2001 recession. The shrinking of the labor force in some of these industries are thus reflected in the high job loss rates.

Data source: JOLTS

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