Is the "Great Recession" Over? Latest Employment News

The latest economic
news shows signs of improvement with the stock market making a strong comeback,
retail sales improving and the jobless claims the lowest in two years.  Does this signal that the
U.S. is really out of the Great Recession and
on its way to a dramatic recovery? 
Officially this recession was over in June, 2009, yet we certainly
didn’t feel like it was over with our home “underwater”, jobs scarce and the
stock market bouncing around like a tennis ball!

Yet, now with the
exception of the real estate market that remains decimated for a least a few
more years, the future suddenly seems brighter! 
The employment rate has fallen to 8.8% from 8.9%.  216,000 workers were hired in March with the
number of people seeking jobless claims dropping 10,000 to 382,000 new claims
in the week ending 4/2.  The 4- week
moving average is just above a 2-year low, reached 3 weeks ago.

The total number of
people collecting benefits dropped to 3.7 million in the week ending 3/19.  This is the lowest level since October,
2008.  The problem is that this number
doesn’t include the millions of people receiving aid under the Emergency Unemployment
Benefit package program that Obama supported last year.  Overall, 8.5 million people are still
receiving unemployment benefits, as of the week ending 3/19.

That’s still a
whole lot of people that are unemployed and living on the federal
government!  So, is our economy really
getting better or not?  I think it is
getting better.  There are a number of
companies actively hiring with technology firms leading the way out of our recession.  Yet, compared to the number of people that
are unemployed, these companies are absorbing very few job seekers. 

One area that
appears to have picked up in hiring is for recent college graduates.  The larger corporations and smaller tech
firms are seeking talent through active recruiting at job fairs and
on-line.  This is after a very slow 2-
year hiring period for recent grads.  It’s
a good time to attend job fairs.

I spoke at the
Women for Hire job fair/seminar in
Chicago yesterday. 
This free program was packed with unemployed women ranging in age from
the early 20’s to early 60’s.  Many had
advanced degrees, yet have been living on unemployment for some time.  They were looking for answers as to why they
haven’t been hired.  Accenture, Wal-mart,
Staples and AON to name a few were on-site to meet with these women; it’s a
very good sign hiring is coming back.

Many people are
still “underwater” in their homes which have stalled any recovery in the
residential real estate market for some time, until these homes that are headed
to foreclosure are sold.  This issue
drags on consumer spending in the
U.S. which is 70% of the GDP.  Consumers are paying off their debt, but
reluctant to overspend, knowing the fragility of our economy.

Love to hear your
thoughts. So, are we really out of the Great Recession and onto a decade
of prosperity?  And, who will be the
winners in an economic recovery?  Who will
be left behind?



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