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Real unemployment rate: 17 percent

Fri, Dec 3, 2010

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Measure

Not seasonally adjusted

Seasonally adjusted

Nov.
2009

Oct.
2010

Nov.
2010

Nov.
2009

July
2010

Aug.
2010

Sept.
2010

Oct.
2010

Nov.
2010

U-1 Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force

5.6

5.5

5.5

5.8

5.7

5.5

5.5

5.7

5.8

U-2 Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force

5.9

5.4

5.8

6.5

5.9

6.0

6.1

5.9

6.2

U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate)

9.4

9.0

9.3

10.0

9.5

9.6

9.6

9.6

9.8

U-4 Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers

9.9

9.8

10.0

10.5

10.2

10.3

10.3

10.4

10.6

U-5 Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

10.7

10.6

10.8

11.3

11.0

11.0

11.0

11.1

11.3

U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

16.4

15.9

16.3

17.2

16.5

16.7

17.1

17.0

17.0

Here are some interesting statistics, courtesy of the U.S. Government. They seem to show pretty conclusively that the nation’s real unemployment rate is not the “official unemployment rate” of 9.8 percent, but the far more comprehensive rate of 17 percent, described as the “total unemployed.”

The latter figure includes everyone — the jobless, the discouraged jobless, the semi-employed and the sporadically employed. Seasonally adjusted, the rate has fallen slightly in the last year from 17.2 percent to 17 percent.

It’s a shockingly high number. Nearly a fifth of the workforce is mired in what amounts to an endless depression. It’s particularly dismaying when you hear elected officials, ostensibly serious men and women, say glibly that there are plenty of jobs out there – it’s just that the unemployed are lazy slackers, living happily off their “funemployment.”

Seventeen percent. Such numbers suggest that the measures we’ve taken to boost the economy, far from being too much, have been utterly inadequate. They suggest that the much-touted economic recovery isn’t much of a recovery.

Worst of all, they suggest that we live in a different country, one that has shifted under our feet in just a few years. We no longer live, it appears, in the land of opportunity, where anyone who’s willing to work hard can build a decent life.

Call it instead the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Joe Says:

    I was surprised to see that you actually would quote something that only most conservative conservative commentators (Rush, Hannity, etc.) would really do. (Seriously John, I was).

    I agree with you that this unemployment number is absolutely too high. Where we fail, and where we will continue to fail is that we are forgetting the past.

    The Depression era was a terrible time in our country’s history. One that everyone should be made aware of from an economic standpoint so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

    Unfortunately, our current administration is making the same errors in judgement with similar types of economic policies with little consideration for the fact that the policies enacted in the Depression era actually extended the economic downturn.

    You cannot spend money irresponsibly and expect an economic miracle to happen. You have to do it responsibly, with input from all major parties, backed with true economic intelligence from people that are the best in their field.

    Unfortunately, our current administration has done little to consult with knowledgable economists, financiers and business people that are objective and have no agenda other than the improvement of our communities and our country (most that were involved are/have resigned and left to pursue other alternatives).

    Obviously, they think they know what is best for us.

  2. Bob Says:

    If this data is available from the Government, is there historical information available. How has the ‘Total Unemployment’ changed in the last two years?

  3. Johnna Bavoso Says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks so much for compiling this accurate and tragic truth about unemployment. I’ve been trying to help folks who are traumatized by first being laid off and then having an extended period of unemployment. Check out the website for more information and let me know if you have any other suggestions about how to get this resource out to folks more quickly. The collaboration with workforce centers is good, but slow moving. I wrote the guidebook and self published to make it the affordable $10–given half of them away. Reality is that the folks who need it most are stuck, isolated, and broke. The support groups are what really help…so still working on how to get more going. I’d be happy to share what I’ve done so far and to hear your ideas. Not only is a Boulevard of Broken Dreams, it’s a Bouldevard of Broken Trust and Broken Hearts. Johnna