Why Unemployment Stays High, Simply Explained

As you can see from the graph above, drawn from the invaluable FRED database of the St. Louis Reserve Bank, in 39 months of recovery the total number of jobs in the economy today remains below its pre-recession peak and, indeed, has barely returned to its level in 1999. Essentially, the net effect is that we’ve moved sideways for ten years. This has occurred even as the country’s population has increased by 10% over the period of the last decade.

A quick look at the Employment Situation Reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics over the last dozen years reveals that of the increase that was seen over that period much was in just three sectors: construction, healthcare, and education. That construction jobs will likely never return to the heights seen at the peak of housing bubble and that healthcare and education spending are largely funded by unsustainable increases in public spending or, in the case of education, by unsustainable increases in public spending and unsustainable levels of private debt are discouraging.

Under the circumstances I thought it might be prudent to revisit what I believe is actually happening, explained as simply as I can.

Following the collapse of the housing bubble and the attending financial crisis, much of the attention of the authorities both in the govern