Employment Slow to Rebound

Millions of Gulf South workers face still greater challenges

By Fred Kammer, S.J.

Many commentators assume that, because there are economic indicators that the “great recession” has ended, workers are back to work and our national and regional troubles are at end. Far from it. Nationally, we lost 8.7 million jobs in this recession, and subsequent job growth has reduced that by only a fifth, to 7 million jobs.1 Assuming national growth at the April 2011 level of 244,000 jobs a month, it would take almost two and a half years to erase that remaining job deficit and years more to reach full employment due to continuing population growth.

In the Gulf South, regional unemployment declined from 9.9 percent to 9.5 percent between February 2010 and February 2011, with the number of officially unemployed workers dropping by about 86,000. Three states have seen some unemployment reduction in the past year—Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. Louisiana and Texas unemployment continues to grow, but both have had relatively low unemployment compared to many other states. Overall, the region still has one and a half million more unemployed workers than four years ago.

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