WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy has reached a milestone: It has regained all the private-sector jobs it lost during the Great Recession.
Yet it took six years, and unemployment remains stubbornly high at 6.7 percent.
The comeback figures were contained in a government report Friday that showed a solid if unspectacular month of job growth in March.
Businesses and nonprofits shed 8.8 million jobs during the 2007-09 recession; they have since hired 8.9 million. But because the population has grown since the big downturn, the economy is still millions of jobs short of where it should be by now.
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U.S. employers did add a seasonally adjusted 192,000 jobs in March, just below February’s 197,000, which was revised higher. March’s figure nearly matched last year’s average monthly gain, suggesting that the economy has recovered from the hiring slowdown caused by severe weather.
Most economists expect job growth to pick up a bit to a monthly pace of 225,000 or more. One reason: Americans have reduced their debts.
Better household finances should translate into more spending.
“Enough repair has happened in damaged sectors and there’s enough calm … so we can have a real recovery,” said Ethan Harris, global economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
About 1.3 million people have started looking for jobs, and most have found them.
Last year, by contrast, the number of people either working or looking for work had shrunk by about 500,000.
That’s a welcome change from the pattern that had prevailed since the recession: The proportion of Americans working or looking for work fell to a 35-year low in December.