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Justin Fox

The Government's a Drag on Employment

It's the big reason this recovery is different.
There's been a lot of this.

There's been a lot of this.

Photographer: David McNew/Getty Images

The jobs recovery of the past five years looks a lot like the early and middle stages of the recoveries from the previous two recessions, I wrote Friday. Here's the chart that inspired this observation:

The employment rebound that began in 2003 ended early, and the one that began in 1991 went on and on, but in terms of the rate of increase those two recoveries and the current one look quite similar, especially in comparison with earlier, stronger recoveries. This set Aaron Pressman of Yahoo Finance to wondering. Maybe, he mused on Twitter, I should separate government employment from private-sector employment and see what the chart looked like then. So I did.

When you just look at private-sector jobs, which accounted for 85 percent of total nonfarm jobs in July, the story isn't all that different.