The economy added a net 1.9 million jobs over the course of 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, which was released Friday. Over the course of last year, 51.4 million people lost or voluntarily quit their jobs, while 53.3 million people were hired. Those are the lowest job lost numbers for any year in the 21st century — but don’t celebrate just yet.
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“Since the credit crisis ended, fewer and fewer people are being fired, and fewer people are applying for unemployment insurance […]. But hiring has been slow to pick up,” writes Floyd Norris at The New York Times.
In addition, many of the jobs that have been added since the Recession are low-paying jobs. Jeffry Bartash at Marketwatch points out that although the work week has remained stable at 34.3 hours (as of October 2013), wage growth has been largely stagnant at $24.10 average per hour, a year-over-year increase of only 2.2 percent. The PayScale Index forecasts a growth of only 0.7 percent for the first quarter of 2014.
Even worse, it’s possible that fewer layoffs means a different public perception about the long-term unemployed.
“During past downturns, Congress has usually been willing to vote for extended unemployment benefits, with the implicit assumption that most of those who cannot find jobs are unfortunate victims of a poor economy,” writes Norris at The Times. “That attitude presumably was reinforced for people who saw their friends and neighbors forced out of jobs.”
Now that layoffs aren’t on people’s radar to the same degree, it’s easier to ignore the plight of those who do lose their jobs — or who can’t find new ones that pay a living wage.
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