Debates of the Great Recession Are Over, Hooray
I have a different theory about all of this. Mine says that we will never reach those levels of employment again, and that both the numbers of employed and the unemployment rate will continue to shrink. My theory says “Meet the new norm, it’s not a symbol of decline but rather a symbol of efficiency.” My theory says it was bound to happen from the combination of the large bubble of baby boomers entering retirement, creative work becoming more valuable than manufacturing, and robotic manufacture of micro and nano machines displacing old technology.
The US still leads the world in product consumption, and baby boomer budgets have shifted their spend from cars and new clothes needed for work to entertainment, lifestyle, and health needs. It’s a natural progression and we should celebrate that we can do that rather than wring our hands over it.*
Five years after the financial crisis, the general expert consensus is that the Obama administration did a good but not great response job. The financial rescue measures saved the banking system from wreaking deep, widespread destruction, but preserved it well enough to live on as a noxious political-economic force. Financial reforms reduced but did not eliminate systemic risk. The auto bailout worked better than anybody could have hoped. The stimulus prevented Depression-level unemployment but wasn’t large enough to avoid a deep, grinding recovery with mass unemployment.
I’ve seen lots of charts keyed to the five-year anniversary of the crisis — it’s like Christmas for chart bloggers — but this one, via Derek Thompson, sums up the situation best:
*pssst! Kids — if you are reading this: the best paying starter creative jobs are all in engineering and healthcare. Also Remember: some creative jobs are based on the ability to make highly stressful decisions well, so management (of people, process, product, or projects) is also a great choice if you can get there.