The Severe Crisis of Jobs in the United States and California

The economy needs jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs—this is not news to the 25 million unemployed and underemployed workers who continue to bear the hardships of the Great Recession. Workers have grown weary and families once bending are now breaking under the strain. The severe crisis of jobs in the United States and, particularly, in California seems to be lost as austerity dominates the policy dialogue in Washington, DC. In California, another round of cuts and anti-stimulus measures are underway and they will move the state further away from recovery. The downturn has hit the state especially hard and given its size and importance in the U.S. economy it is hard to imagine a robust recovery without the Golden State.

The onset of what was to become the Great Recession started in December 2007. Job losses were at first mild but then fell off a cliff the latter half of 2008 coinciding with the bursting of the housing bubble and the resultant implosion of many financial institutions. Situating this labor market in a historical context provides important insights and perspective into the current situation and what we may expect. This paper documents the fallout from the Great Recession by detailing key labor market statistics—the realities are harsh and should give pause to those advocating for economic austerity. A massive jobs bill and aid to struggling states should be top priority.