On This PageJune, No. 263

The authors examine how firms are adjusting their workforce during the current recession in comparison with other recessions over the past 40 years.

How Does Labor Adjustment in This Recession Compare with the Past?
Last Updated: 05/14/09
Common labor market measures paint a decidedly gloomy picture of current conditions for U.S. workers. Some of these measures, such as payroll employment and the civilian unemployment rate, have declined more during the first 17 months of the current recession, which began in December 2007, than in any similar period after World War II. Firms appear to be aggressively adjusting their workforce given the sharp drop in economic activity. As a result, productivity growth has remained steady throughout the downturn so far.