Jobs Numbers Show 'Bifurcated Economy'

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People wait to talk with potential employers at a job fair in New York. (AP)
People wait to talk with potential employers at a job fair in New York. (AP)

By any measure, the latest employment numbers were good — 243,000 jobs added to the economy in January, the third straight month in which the economy added over 200,000 jobs.

The hiring was across pay scales and industries, and overall, the economy created 1.8 million jobs last year.

"What was positive about this particular report is that you had a wide distribution [of job creation] among sectors and industries, and wide distribution among large and small firms. An inkling of better times to come," economist Cliff Waldman told Here and Now's Robin Young.

But, Waldman says the report also reveals  a "bifurcated economy:" While more people are getting jobs, the percentage of people who have been unemployed for 6 months or more actually rose, to levels not seen since the Great Depression.

And this is happening, Waldman says, even as employers report that job openings are going un-filled for record periods.

Waldman says this is a "classic market failure" and argues that the federal and state governments need to take action with training programs, because our labor force has "fallen behind what the economy needs."


  • Cliff Waldman, senior economist for MAPI, the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation

This segment aired on February 6, 2012.


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