The McKinsey Global Institute's new report on job creation paints a grim picture of employment prospects in the US for the coming years. The authors write that in today's global economy "there is no more important economic priority than building a strong workforce." And they project a return to full employment will take longer than in previous recoveries. Much longer. Here is a look at their projection compared to past recessions:
The US economy needs to find jobs for the millions who lost jobs since the start of the recession, and then it needs to provide sustained growth and "better matching of US workers to jobs" for there to be any hope of a return to full employment by the end of the decade. From the report:
To return to prerecession employment levels by 2020 and accommodate the new entrants into the labor force, the United States will need to create 21 million net new jobs in this decade. To understand how this might be achieved, we created three scenarios of sector job growth, using our survey data, interviews with companies, and macroeconomic forecasts of sector demand.
In the most optimistic scenario, 22.5 million new jobs could be created by 2020, returning the economy to a 5 percent rate of unemployment by 2018. However, in the low-job-growth scenario, only 9.3 million net new jobs are added—implying continued levels of high unemployment. In our midrange scenario, about 17 million jobs would be created, with the unemployment rate remaining at nearly 7 percent in 2020 (Exhibit E2).
The low-job-growth scenario is frighteningly familiar. Essentially, it would be a continuation of the weak US job creation trend since 2000. It would mean further contraction in manufacturing employment, a continued wave of automation and offshoring in administrative and back-office positions, and a new wave of automation in retail (for instance, more widespread adoption of self-checkout). As in the past decade, our projections show that college graduates would fill a disproportionate share of whatever jobs would be created. Where the scenario would diverge from the past decade is in health care, in which large efficiency gains or significant cost controls unaccompanied by job-creating innovation could slow rates of job growth.
Read the full report, An economy that works: Job creation and America’s future, here.
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