When President Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th U.S. President on January 20, 2009, he assumed leadership during an exceedingly difficult economic period. The country was in the midst of its longest and, by many measures, the worst recession since the Great Depression. The recession took hold in December 2007 and didn’t begin to loosen its grip until June 2009. The financial crisis was in a full frenzy, leaving banks, the housing market and businesses such as the auto industry in a tumultuous state.
The jobs market, too, was in a state of turmoil; 2008 had seen private employers nix 3.8 million jobs. A 2008 Labor Market report released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics captures a grim snapshot, “In the fourth quarter of 2008, the unemployment rate rose to 6.9 percent and the unemployment level reached 10.6 million, an increase of 2.1 percentage points and 3.3 million persons, respectively, over the fourth quarter of 2007. The current recession has hit the labor market particularly hard. The increase in the unemployment rate in 2008 was larger than that experienced during the 2001 recession and was the largest fourth-quarter-to-fourth-quarter increase since 1982.”
President Obama reflected on the deep damage control his role immediately demanded: “We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market.”
After the recession reached its technical end, Americans in every locality across the country continued to be impacted as the bedraggled economy sought to recalibrate itself. Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain notes, “By June 2009, total output in the U.S. economy had shrunk by a whopping 4.3 percent. This sent the unemployment rate soaring to 10.0 percent in October 2009, ushering in years of sluggish wage growth as labor markets struggled to recover.”
In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into law. This was the first of a host of laws enacted with the goal of strengthening job creation. The Council of Economic Advisors notes in their impact report: “The CEA estimates that, by itself, the Recovery Act saved or created an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years through the end of 2012.”
Glassdoor’s Job reports support the council’s claims of steady job growth. September 2016 reports reveals 72 consecutive months, more than six years, of job gains. According to Dr. Chamberlain, this is the longest streak the US has experienced since the 1930s.
In his State of the Union Address in January 2016, President Obama proclaimed: “We're in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the '90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years.”
Dr. Chamberlain notes: “Unlike the past two election cycles, the labor market is so healthy today that it has largely fallen away as a hot-button political issue. This election year has featured slow and steady growth, with few surprises in the monthly jobs numbers.”
The next president, whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, will likely be greeted by a more welcoming economic climate.
So what does this mean for you?
Now may be the time to break into in-demand fields. Healthcare has been a fast-growing industry for years, with pervasive skill shortages for many roles. Strong demand for certain key health care workers is evident in Glassdoor data as well. Specifically, three health care jobs saw exceptional pay growth in October: Registered nurse, pharmacy technician, and medical assistants. Salaries for all three roles are growing well above average in all five metros.
For example, median base pay for medical assistants grew by 6.3 percent for the U.S. overall in October, and 7.8 percent year over year in Los Angeles to $38,160. Similarly, median base pay for pharmacy technicians grew by 4.4 percent for the U.S. overall, but as high as 5.8 percent year-over-year in Los Angeles ($36,987 median base pay).
Also, Glassdoor data shows several blue-collar job titles are experiencing robust wage growth today. Warehouse associate, truck driver, and machine operators are all experiencing year-over-year growth in median base pay that is well above the U.S. average.