The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the “official” unemployment rate for April is 8.9%, a stunning jump from 4.8% just a year earlier. It is the highest jobless rate since the glory days of the Reagan Revolution in 1983. The country lost 539,000 jobs last month, which reporters are scrambling to put a happy face on by saying that “analysts had predicted a loss of 600,000,” although this difference is more than offset by the 72,000 temporary government jobs associated with the 2010 census.
Over 4 million million jobs have been lost in the past six months, and over 5 million during the last 16 straight months of job losses. However, to get back to pre-recession/depression rate (if things magically started recovering like last week) we would need to add 7 million jobs, to account for the growth in the population.
The real story, of course, is much grimmer. The official BLS rate (shown in line U3 of the monthly reports) only counts those actively seeking work.
Line U6 of that same report, however, gives a more accurate picture of the state of unemployment. This rate stands at 15.8% for April 2009, up from 8.9% a year earlier. (All the info comes from the BLS website).
The U6 number includes the following:
- *Discouraged workers: those who have looked for a job in the past twelve months but given up.
- *Marginally attached workers: This group includes discouraged workers above, as well as others who have looked for work in the recent past and would accept a job if offered. They are not included in the “official” count because they have not looked for work in the past four weeks.
- *Part-time workers for economic reasons: This group includes people who are employed part time, but are actively seeking full-time work because they want (and presumably need) it. A more accurate description is “involuntary part-time workers.”