The U.S. Job Recovery Is a Global Laggard

It’s often said that the U.S. has recovered more strongly from the last recession than most other developed nations. Data on jobs, though, suggest that’s not quite true.

One simple measure of labor market performance is the fraction of people in their prime working years (ages 25 to 54) who have a job. Focusing on this age group helps strip out the varying effects of aging populations and retirement trends in different countries.

In late 2007, before the recession started, the prime-age employment-to-population ratio in the U.S. was about the same as in other Group of Seven developed nations (which also include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K.). The U.S., however, experienced a much larger decline during the recession, and remains much farther from undoing the damage. As of June, the G-7 as a whole had recovered almost completely, while the U.S. was only 60 percent back from its lowest point:

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