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In the 1990s, the U.S. experienced its strongest labor market in decades. People who started to look for a job had much better chances of finding employment. The boom improved the absolute and relative positions of African Americans. Their wages rose sharply, the employed share of the African-American population grew faster than that of whites, and teenage blacks experienced a much larger gain in employment than teenage whites. Many of these gains eroded in the weak labor market of the current economic recovery.

  • "Despite economic growth, employment consistently fell from the start of the economic recovery in November 2001 until August 2003. Even when employment grew, it did so at below average rates. After 43 months of economic recovery, there were 5.8 million fewer jobs than there would have been if employment had grown at historic rates.
  • "Although many sectors of the economy saw weak job growth, experiences varied. After seeing few gains in the 1990s, manufacturing lost millions of jobs in the recession and recovery. In comparison, the retail and wholesale trade and information sectors saw relatively small gains. Yet, construction and financial activities saw continued expansion and no erosion of their 1990s gains.
  • "Because job losses in manufacturing were so heavy, men were disproportionately affected by the weak labor market. Employment for African-American and white men should be expected to decline by 1.6 and 2.2 percent due to the shift of employment away from manufacturing.
  • "Amid the weak labor market, the 1990s employment gains of men and women eroded. Instead of primarily occurring during the recession, today’s job losses happened during the recovery, with the losses being typically larger for new entrant and out of school youth.
  • "Inflation-adjusted earnings stagnated during the recession and have either continued their stagnation or fallen during the recovery after growing during the 1990s boom.
  • "A comparison of metropolitan labor markets shows that tight labor markets matter, particularly for new entrants and out of school blacks. Due to the general sluggishness of the labor markets across the country, these groups experienced erosions in their employment and earnings of the 1990s.

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See Also:
The Road to Zero: Still Not There Yet, Private Sector Job Growth Under President Bush by Gene Sperling, June 3, 2005
President Bush’s Job Deficits by Christian E. Weller, June 3, 2005




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