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Fed Studies Show Damage to Labor Market Is Reversible

Bloomberg (08/20/12) Alex Kowalski

Most of the damage inflicted on the U.S. labor market by the recession is reversible, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, leaving open the possibility that additional stimulus will be effective in reducing joblessness. Approximately one-third, or 1.5 percentage points, of the jump in unemployment from 5% as the economic slump began to its 10% peak in October 2009 can be traced to a mismatch between the supply of labor and job openings, according to the study, leaving the remainder due mainly to a lack of demand.

“There is still considerable weakness in the labor market,” says Aysegul Sahin, one of the authors and a New York Fed economist. “We see that the weakness in the labor market is not specific to certain groups, such as certain occupations or certain locations. This points to a case where labor market weakness can be attributable to the overall weakness in the economy.” A permanent shift would mean policy makers applying additional stimulus risk spurring inflation by driving unemployment down too far too quickly, while a temporary dislocation would indicate more can be done.

Going in Circles: The Merry-Go-Round Economy

Wall Street Journal (08/21/12) Ben Casselman

Since the recession ended three years ago, the U.S. economy has been more like a merry-go-round, with some movement but never really going anywhere. A month ago, economists were talking seriously about whether the U.S. was headed back into a recession, but now, after a series of encouraging indicators the economy appears to be again moving. However, the larger truth is that the economy has been stuck more or less in neutral since the recession ended.

Dave Altig, an economist and blogger for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, notes gross domestic product has been growing at a rate of roughly 2% since 2010. Job growth has bounced around a lot month to month, but over time has averaged a relatively consistent 150,000 jobs per month since the start of 2011. Inflation has been a bit more volatile, but remains at or a bit below the Fed’s unofficial 2% target rate.

That kind of sluggish growth is disappointing to anyone expecting the U.S. to return quickly to its prerecession path, as it has after many past recessions. However, it is actually standard for a post-financial-crisis recovery, according to economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, who looked at eight centuries of financial crises and found it consistently takes years for economies to get back on their feet. That suggests the U.S. economic merry-go-round still has a few turns left to go.

Is Your Company Prepared for What’s Coming Next?

Succeeding in the staffing business means always being one step ahead of the next industry trend, regulatory shift, or legislative change. Recently, the ASA legal team conducted a free Webinar on potential lawsuits resulting from government guidance on the use of criminal background checks, mandates related to the health care reform law that are set to take effect in 2014, possible business changes resulting from the November elections, and other pressing issues that can affect your bottom line.

Did you miss this important Webinar? Contact Kim Potter at 703-253-2051 to obtain a free recording, or register for the next complimentary Webinar on legislative and regulatory issues, which takes place Sept. 11, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time.

ASAPro Webinar Coming Soon—Get Your House in Order

It’s time to get your staffing firm organized. Register today for the ASAPro Webinar “Keep Your Own House in Order: Hire and Manage Sales Executives Committed to Building Business,” Thursday, Sept. 13, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time. Chris Cosmos will help you identify impediments to success, share customer relationship management strategies, and present a radical approach to sales management that does not put “people first.”

ASAPro Webinars are free for ASA members and qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. Register online at