Fed Chairman Yellen: The Recovery Still Feels Like a Recession

In case you needed more evidence that the labor market recovery in Maine and across the nation is still far from complete, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Janet Yellen has you covered:

But while there has been steady progress, there is also no doubt that the economy and the job market are not back to normal health….

The recovery still feels like a recession to many Americans, and it also looks that way in some economic statistics. At 6.7 percent, the national unemployment rate is still higher than it ever got during the 2001 recession. … It certainly feels like a recession to many younger workers, to older workers who lost long-term jobs, and to African Americans, who are facing a job market today that is nearly as tough as it was during the two downturns that preceded the Great Recession.

In some ways, the job market is tougher now than in any recession. The numbers of people who have been trying to find work for more than six months or more than a year are much higher today than they ever were since records began decades ago.

If you’ve already read today’s report from MECEP— “Maine’s Labor Market Recovery: Far From Complete”—most of this should sound familiar. Maine’s unemployment rate is still well above where it was before the recession and even during the recession of 2001. 30% of Maine’s 40,000-plus unemployed workers have been looking for a job for more than six months. That’s still more than twice the rate of long-term unemployment the state experienced prior to the Great Recession.

Yellen goes on to tell an anecdote about a woman named Vicki Lira, who “enjoys her part-time job serving food samples to customers at a grocery store but wishes she could get more hours.” As documented Maine has sixth largest number of these “involuntary” part-time workers in the nation, as a share of all employed workers.


It’s been almost five years since the official end of the Great Recession, but we are still a long way from a full recovery. But you don’t have to take our word for it.