Remember above all else this analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which looks at the impact of aging and slowing population growth to determine how many jobs are needed to return to full employment. These economists calculate that it would take four more years of job gains at the current pace of 195,000 per month to completely close the gap that began opening at the end of 2007.
In other words, the U.S. is on track for a lost decade under the most optimistic assumptions. It will take even longer to return to full employment if the Chicago Fed’s demographic analysis turns out to be incorrect, or if the present rate of job creation can’t be sustained over the next several years.
The composition of jobs being added is also a worry. Of the 195,000 jobs added last month, 112,000 were in the categories of “leisure and hospitality” and “retail.” Those positions usually pay less and have fewer benefits. The number of people working part-time who would rather be working full-time soared in June by 322,000. No wonder average hourly earnings for private-sector workers continue to increase by only about 2 percent annually.