Indiana News

Jobless Recovery?

9/7/2009

This Labor Day weekend may bring the news you've been waiting to hear, although you won't hear it yet. Pointing to a reduction in layoffs and increases in the housing industry, a Butler University economics professor says the recession may be over already.

"When the National Bureau of Economic Research sets the date for when the recession ended, they're gonna say it ended now or very close to now, " says Professor Robert Main. But, he says, it could be a "jobless recovery" for a while.

That term was used in the aftermath of the recessions in the early 90s and the one in 2001. Professor Main says, "It just seems like companies are very slow to hire back."

And some never will, he says, especially in the manfucturing sector which accounts for an unusually large share of economic activity in Indiana. Increased productivity reduces the need for workers, meaning those jobs will never return.

The answer, says Professor Main, is for labor to become better educated and more flexible. "Easy thing for somebody like me to say, " he admits. "I'm a tenured professor. They're not going to lay me off." But for the labor market, he says, "that is the hand that it has been dealt."

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