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Jobs report finds little overall progress. Why is recovery so slow?

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Manufacturing was one of the bright spots in the monthly numbers, showing a gain of 25,000 hires on employer payrolls.

But overall, the key phrases in the Labor Department's description of the job market were "essentially unchanged" and "little changed." The stock market reacted in kind, with the Standard & Poor's 500 index essentially flat Friday morning after the news.

Why has the jobs recovery since the recession, which officially ended in 2009, been so slow?

Before looking at some answers, here's the evidence on how the current job market compares with that in past recoveries.

The current pace of recovery is weaker than in the other recoveries since 1948, with the possible exception of the period after the economic slump of 2001.

Prior to 1990, economic recoveries tended to show a fairly quick rebound in jobs, with total US employment rising 4 percent or more within about 15 months. The past couple of decades have been a period of "jobless recoveries," where the progress tends to be slower. The graphic attached to this article (see box near the upper-left part of the story) tells the story visually.

A quick note about the chart: The version shown here omits the 1980 recession for more visual simplicity, since the aftermath includes another recession and recovery. You can visit the original interactive version of the chart at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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