May 2011


A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 14.9
million, and the jobless rate was 9.6 percent. [BLS]

African American
Asian**                                     7.0%
Persons with a disability **
Men 20 years and over
Women 20 years and over
Teens (16-19 years)
Black teens
Officially unemployed
13.9 million


Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job:   8.5 million
People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.5 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)   6.2 million
Total: 28.6 million (17.9% of the labor force)


**Not seasonally adjusted.
*See Uncommon Sense #4 for an explanation of the unemployment measures.

In addition, millions more were working full-time, year-round, yet earned less than the official poverty level for a family of four. In 2009, the latest year available, that number was 16.3 million, 16.4 percent of full-time, full-year workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the  Census, 2010).

In April, 2011, the latest month available, the number of job openings was 3.0 million, “little changed from 3.1 million in March. After increasing in February, job openings have been flat. Job openings have been around 3.0 million for three consecutive months; the last three-month period with levels this high was September—November 2008. The number of job openings was 549,000 higher than at the end of the recession in June 2009 (as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research) but remains well below the 4.4 million openings when the recession began in December 2007.” Job Openings and Labor Turnover Estimates, June 7, 2011.+ Thus there are now 9 job-wanters for each available job.


Employment-population ratio

Mass layoffsReview of 2010 BLS, 2/11/11
For all of 2010, employers reported 7,158 extended mass layoff actions, affecting 1,213,638 workers. Compared to 2009, the number of events decreased by 39 percent and the number of separations decreased by 42 percent, the first over-the-year decline for both measures since 2005. The annual average national unemployment rate increased from 9.3 percent in 2009 to 9.6 percent in 2010, and private nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 0.8 percent, or 914,000.

Industry Distribution of Extended Layoffs
In the private nonfarm economy, manufacturing reported the largest number of separations, despite reaching a program low in 2010 (with annual data available back to 1996). Construction had the next highest number of separations. Educational services reported program highs in both layoff events and separations in 2010.
+ “The number of job openings in April (not seasonally adjusted) increased from 12 months earlier for total private, four industries, and in the Midwest region. The level decreased over the year for other services, government, and federal government. Over-the-year comparisons for federal government in April are impacted, in part, by the large number of job openings for temporary workers to conduct the 2010 Census.