A Decade After the Great Recession, the Jobs Gap Has Closed Nationally

The reports referenced in this blog post can be read from the Hamilton Project and Brookings.


Following the conclusion of an economic analysis, the Hamilton Project concluded that the “jobs gap” created by the Great Recession has finally closed. This is a key indicator of labor market health. Although the West Michigan region recovered the number of jobs lost in the recession several years ago, this is a significant economic step on a national scale.

Millions of Jobs Created

The jobs gap closed in July 2017, according to the Hamilton Project’s report. That means that nearly a full decade after the Great Recession’s start, employment has returned to its pre-recession level.

Millions of jobs had to be created to recover from the losses during the Great Recession from November 2007 through 2010. During the recession, about 8.5 million jobs were lost. However, because of the rising population, over 10 million jobs had to be created to close the gap.

An Uneven Recovery

Although the jobs gap has closed overall, the recovery has been uneven for some demographics. Here are some of the ways that the Hamilton Project notes the jobs gap recovery has differed:

States have recovered unevenly.

Not every state has created enough jobs to reach pre-recession employment. Michigan, however, has surpassed the jobs gap rate by 2.1 percentage points, and West Michigan has fared even better, as highlighted in our recent West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook.

Women have outperformed men.

Fewer women lost their jobs during the Great Recession, but the employment rate for men remains lower still. This is in part because production and construction, both male-dominated fields, were hit particularly hard during the recession.

On a related note, Black and Hispanic workers have recovered faster than white workers. However, they still face higher unemployment rates today than white workers because their pre-recession employment was lower. 

The Jobs Gap is Largest for Those Without Degrees.

Workers with high school diplomas or less faced the largest unemployment levels during the recession, and was smaller for those with Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or graduate degrees. Today, the jobs gap is larger for those without any form of post-secondary education than it was for those with Bachelor’s degrees or more in 2010.

Problems Remain for the Labor Market

According to Brookings, the employment rate for those 25-54 years-old remains depressed. The number of people working part-time for economic reasons remains high as well, and restrained wage growth remain issues for the labor market as well.

To read more about the jobs gap, check out the reports from the Hamilton Project and Brookings. To learn more about West Michigan’s labor force participation, check out this research brief from Talent 2025, as well as a wide range of economic data in our latest West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook, released in August 2017.

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