The Downturn Is More About Hiring Than Firing

Catherine Rampell writes about the striking fact that “While about 8 percent of Americans are unemployed, nearly a quarter of Americans say they were laid off at some point during the recession or afterward.”

That’s amazing. But it is worth keeping in mind the striking facts from the BLS JOLTS data about the relative weight of layoffs versus hiring in inducing a weak labor market. You can see there clearly was a spike in layoffs during the recession. But the recession began with as slump in hiring, and while the layoff spike faded rapidly, the hiring slump has been agonizingly slow to vanish. Layoffs, to a surprising extent, are always pretty common as various companies fail or get into trouble. But with a healthy labor market, other companies are expanding or starting up at the same time.