The Dire Data on Permanent Job Loss

Via Mark Thoma, Atlanta Fed Senior VP and Research Director David Altig weighs in on the high likelihood of a jobless recovery. He brings to light an interesting number on the permanence of job losses, and the whole post is a good round up what will be a very scary subject:

The percentage of employee separations labeled permanent is at a recorded high.

Underneath the usual total unemployment numbers are the reasons an individual is unemployed: You are on temporary layoff; you quit your job; you have reentered the labor market and have yet to find a job; or you are entering the job market for the first time and have yet to find a job. Or, finally, you have been permanently separated from your previous employer, who has no expectation of hiring you back.

The last category is the dominant reason for unemployment at this time. That might not seem surprising, but it actually is. Never, in the six recessions preceding the latest one, did permanent separations account for more than 45 percent of the unemployed. The current percentage stands at 56 percent as of September and appears to be still climbing:

Job Loss

As Dr. Rob Shapiro tells us, the concept of a jobless recovery is scary, but even worse is that the term may overstate the case. We could be in for what is technically a recovery in which the economy actually loses jobs.