Job losses in the U.S. have exceeded eight million since the recession began in December 2007, and the unemployment rate has risen steadily compared with the last two recessions and in comparison to the decline in GDP. The pace of job losses has eased since H2 2009 but the economy is still shedding jobs. Jobless claims, despite falling markedly since April 2009, remain elevated and need to fall below 400,000 to show payroll gains. During this recession, companies have significantly reduced workweeks, full-time workers and wages and benefits in order to cut costs and boost productivity. Uncertainty about economic recovery and structural changes in the economy might lead to yet another "jobless recovery" and several jobs in housing, autos, manufacturing, retail and financial services will be lost permanently. Amid a weak economic recovery, it might take several years to recover the jobs lost during this recession and to bring the unemployment rate closer to its structural rate of 5.0%. The significant labor market slack and high unemployment duration will lead to downward pressure on wages and deterioration of human capital. This calls for increased funding for safety nets and labor retraining programs.
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