James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Unemployment in June at 9.5 percent … or is it 10 percent?

July 2, 2009

According to the Labor Department, the economy lost 467,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.5 percent in June.  But lots of workers have stopped looking for work and that skews the unemployment rate. If workers were looking for jobs in the same numbes as they were in June 2008 (we are talking about the labor force participation rate which was 66.1 percent then and 59.5 percent now), the unemployment rate would be at 10 percent.

Also consider that the broader unemployment measure (unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers) is 16.5 percent. Even worse, the unemployment duration numbers took a sharp dive.

Oh, and those folks who are working are working fewer hours:

In June, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.1 hour to 33.0 hours–the lowest level on record for the series, which began in 1964.¬† The manufacturing workweek rose by 0.1 hour to 39.5 hours, and factory overtime¬† was unchanged at 2.8 hours.

Comments

Making mention of the “underemployed” was a very good fact that too many people look simply overlook by falsely believing that it’s somehow ok to lose a few hundred thousand less jobs from month to month. It would be quite a shock if we could somehow come up with accurate numbers of those who are unemployed, not looking, underemployed, part-time instead of full-time not by choice, and those who have had their overtime and regular hours cut. The economy is by no means on the upswing when these aspects are factored into the total jobless equation.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive
 

I found different labor participation rates at this bls link.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive
 

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t 01.htm
This is the link I referenced above.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive
 

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