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August 1982, Vol. 105, No. 8
The Nation's employment situation
worsens in the first half of 1982
Marillyn A. Hewson and Michael A. Urquart
The economy entered 1982 deeply mired in its eighth post-World War II recession, following an unusually brief and weak recovery. The employment situation of some worker groups, particularly blacks and teenagers, had simply not shown improvement from the 1980 recession. Labor market conditions, which had been deteriorating rapidly since mid-1981, worsened substantially in the fourth quarter and continued to weaken through the first quarter of 1982. Employment dropped sharply and unemployment soared to the highest level recorded in the postwar era. However, there was evidence of moderation by the end of the second quarter.
Persistently high interest rates, which aborted the recovery from the 1980 recession, were a major cause of the 1981-82 economic reversal. The interest-rate sensitive construction and automobile manufacturing industries have experienced an economic slump spanning the two recessions. By late 1981, the weakness had clearly spread to much of the rest of the economy, including the services sector. The deterioration in the labor market became more pervasive as slackening sales and growing inventories forced firms to sharply curtail new orders, cut back production, and lay off workers. Although labor market conditions appeared to be improving by late spring, recessionary forces clearly dominated the first half of 1982.
This article continues the Monthly Labor Review practice of examining the Nation's employment situation at mid-year. It traces developments in employment and unemployment during the current recession, concentrating particularly on the first 6 months of 1982.
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 1982 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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