With the economic expansion in its eighth year, over 15 million jobs added since the post-recession low in employment, and a steady decline in the jobless rate from its recessionary high of 10% to under 5%, many mainstream economists were convinced that the U.S. economy was in good shape. That misconception, at least where jobs are concerned, is a key reason so many were stunned by this month’s election verdict.
Looking beneath the headlines, it is important to appreciate how unevenly distributed the job gains have been during the current business cycle. We pointed out nearly five years ago that, over the first two years of the jobs recovery, Whites accounted for less than 59% of the job gains, even though they made up over 81% of the labor force. Meanwhile, Blacks and Hispanics, who made up “about a quarter of the labor force, accounted for around five out of every eight jobs added” (USCO, February 2012).
Last month, we again emphasized the skewed nature of this jobs recovery, noting that, “for seven long years, the majority of less-educated non-Hispanic White adults has not been employed. No wonder there is such angst in the lead-up to this presidential election” (USCO Essentials, October 2016).