Official Unemployment Numbers Grim

The latest official unemployment numbers from the Labor Department show continuing deterioration in the job market, setting a record for the ninth straight week.

Seasonally adjusted first time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 8,000 to 652,000, compared to 367,000 a year ago.

The total number of people claiming benefits for more than a week increased by 122,000 to 5.56 million, the highest total since record-keeping began in 1967. This number a year ago was 2.8 million. Adding in the people that are receiving extended unemployment benefits under a special program approved by Congress brings the total to 7.03 million.

The official unemployment rate is now at 8.1%, the highest in 25 years.

Long-term jobless claims have jumped by over 100,000 four times in the past five weeks, indicating that companies continue to shed workers at a rapid rate.

Again, these are the official numbers. As grim as they are, a more accurate assessment would give us an unemployment rate of 14.8% for February. This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “U6” category that includes “Total 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.”

*Marginally attached workers are “people who are neither working nor currently looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work at some time in the recent past,” according to Steve Haugen, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One out of every eight workers.

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