Scott Winship, at his new Brookings gig, reports:
The bleak outlook for jobseekers has three immediate sources. The sharp deterioration beginning in early 2007 is the most dramatic feature of the above chart (the rise in job scarcity after point C in the chart, the steepness of which depends on the data source used). But two less obvious factors predated the recession. The first is the steepness of the rise in job scarcity during the previous recession in 2001 (from point A to point B), which rivaled that during the deep downturn of the early 1980s. The second is the failure between 2003 and 2007 of jobs per jobseeker to recover from the 2001 recession (the failure of point C to fall back to point A).
Unemployment increased during the 2001 recession, but it subsequently fell almost to its previous low (from point A to B and then back to C). In contrast, job openings plummeted—much more sharply than unemployment rose—and then failed to recover. In previous recoveries, openings eventually outnumbered job seekers (where a rising blue line crosses a falling green line), but during the last recovery a labor shortage never emerged.
…Whatever the causes, the evidence is clear that the health of labor markets were compromised well before the recession.
There is much more at the link, including some very good graphs.