The Fastest Jobs Rebound in History

February 4, 2022

What government and the Fed can do next.

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

How to Build on a Record Jobs Year

The US economy gained 467,000 jobs last month—part of the 6.1 million jobs added over 12 months.

We’re experiencing “the fastest employment rebound in modern history,” Roosevelt President and CEO Felicia Wong wrote this week.

And that’s no accident. It’s a byproduct of major government investments and relief efforts—most significantly, the American Rescue Plan, as Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal notes.

And it’s a result of a revolution in thinking at the Federal Reserve, which has realized how far from full employment we were in the past.

More work remains. “Wage gains attracted many back into the labor force, but 1.8 million were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic,” Roosevelt’s Alí Bustamante tweeted today.

Achieving full employment means eliminating the constraints keeping millions of Americans from the work they want.”

It also means building on the Fed’s success to ensure Black workers aren’t excluded from this labor market expansion.

As Wong wrote in advance of this week’s Fed confirmation hearing, Biden’s nominees are the right ones for the moment


Introducing the Labor Leverage Ratio

Today’s impressive job numbers highlight just how remarkable this recovery has been. 

And on the blog, Roosevelt’s Aaron Sojourner and Emily DiVito explore another promising metric: the Labor Leverage Ratio (LLR)—a term coined by Sojourner—which compares the number of worker-initiated quits to employer-initiated discharges (including firings or permanent layoffs).

“Good news for both individual workers and the economy as a whole,” Sojourner and DiVito write. “The LLR is at an all-time high—with about three workers quitting for every one being discharged.” This means that more people are going back to work, with greater leverage to demand better pay and working conditions.

“After decades of weakening labor bargaining power and eroding labor standards, better jobs and increased worker power are set to drive a more equitable pandemic recovery and prosperity in the years ahead.”

Learn more in “The Labor Leverage Ratio: A New Measure That Signals a Worker-Driven Recovery.”


For an Equitable Recovery, Cancel Student Debt

Student debt cancellation would promote an equitable recovery—without increasing inflation—Alí Bustamante explains in a new analysis.

“Student debt cancellation will allow families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars during the ongoing pandemic,” he writes. And it “would complement the administration’s commitment to full employment and income growth by supporting the families who most need it.” 

Read more.


What We’re Reading

Wealth Inequality Is the Highest Since World War IINew York Times

What Voting Rights Mean for the Planet – Grist

How We Broke the Supply ChainThe American Prospect

Lack of Transparency in Salary Could Be Driving Income Disparity [feat. Roosevelt’s Alí Bustamante] – The Grio

Fed Nominees Face Fierce GOP Attack over Views, Credentials [feat. Roosevelt’s Felicia Wong] [paywall] – Bloomberg