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Emergence from Recession May Be Stronger Than Numbers Suggest

There are positive trends in a number of employment indicators — including job creation and the pace of layoffs as well as the unemployment rate — that have been  hidden by the fact that the economy began its recovery in a much deeper hole than the past two recessions, according to a job-placement agency's research.

"By most accounts, we are barely a year into the recovery. At this point in the previous two recoveries — following the 1991 and 2001 recessions — the job market was actually getting worse," said John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based firm that conducted the research. "Many people are so caught up looking at the weekly and monthly numbers, they fail to look at the bigger trends, which indicate just how much the job market has improved over the last 12 months."

However, Challenger added: "Though many experts are pointing to June 2009 as the presumed end of the downturn, that end does not necessarily mean an end to job market misery." 

In 1991 and 2001, the end of the recession was followed by a periods during which payrolls continued to lose jobs and the unemployment rate continued to increase. In 1991, that "jobless recovery" period lasted about 15 months, and following the 2001 downturn, it took about 19 months for the job market to reverse course, Challenger said.

The current recession also was followed by a period of jobless recovery, but it only lasted six months and is now on a positive track, Challenger said.

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