When it comes to job gains following the deepest recession since World War II, not all industries are created equal.
Only half of the 10 major industries in the U.S. have fully recouped jobs lost to the recession, with almost all of the growth concentrated in services industries. Payrolls in the health care sector totaled about 18 million last month, up 13 percent from their pre-recession peak as an aging population demands more services and as the Affordable Care Act expands access to health insurance.
Employment in leisure and dining, business services and transportation has also exceeded previous highs. The only major goods-producing industry that’s pushed past its pre-recession peak is mining, where payrolls are up 21 percent and total 906,000. Within that category, the nation’s energy renaissance has accounted for a 36 percent jump in oil and gas extraction jobs.
The economic expansion reached a milestone in May, with employment exceeding the pre-recession peak for the first time almost five years after the recovery began. Going forward, job gains will need to be more broad-based in order to improve incomes among a greater number of households and boost consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
“A rising tide will lift all boats eventually as the recovery matures further,” said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit.
Laggards include the usual suspects. Payrolls in the construction industry, still suffering from the fallout of the housing crisis, are still 20 percent lower than their previous peak. Tight credit for borrowers and buyers combined with soaring home prices and rising mortgage rates have cut into affordability, slowing the recovery in real estate.
Manufacturing employment is down 12 percent, followed by payrolls in the finance industry, which are still 4 percent below their previous peak as key areas of Wall Street revenue such as trading and investment banking come under pressure.