Unemployment Data–APRIL 2020

APRIL 2020 Unemployment Data–the Full Count



African American
Persons with a disability¹
Men 20 years and over
Women 20 years and over
Teens (16-19 years)
Black teens
Officially unemployed
23.1 million


Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job:  10.9 million
People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.3 million¹ searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.) 9.9 million
Total: 43.9 million (26.4% of the labor force)

Source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf See also Current Employment Statistics–Highlights. For BLS State and area data, see Geographic Information and State Unemployment Summary and Current Unemployment Rates for States and Historical Highs/Lows, Seasonally Adjusted

*See Uncommon Sense #4 and How the BLS Measures Unemployment for an explanation of the unemployment measures.

¹Not seasonally adjusted.  Marginally Attached workers want work and are available, have looked for work within the last 12 months, but not during “the 4 weeks preceding the survey.”

In addition, millions more were working full-time, year-round, yet earned less than the official poverty level for a family of four. In 2017,  that number was 17.1 million, 14.8 percent of full-time, full-year workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the  Census, 8/17). The poverty threshold in 2017 was $25,094 for a family of four.

In March 2020, the latest month available, the number of job openings was 6.2 million. Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, May 15, 2020.  Thus there are 7.1 job-wanters for each available job. See also JOLTS Experimental State Estimates

Unemployment is measured as a percent of the civilian non-institutional labor force.  The unemployed are those who have not worked at least an hour during the week of record, when a sample survey is taken, and who have looked for work during that month. The labor force includes those 16 years old and older who are either working or unemployed.  It excludes those in  institutions, like nursing homes or prisons, and those in the military. The latter two groups would in all likelihood experience high unemployment. Merely adding the incarcerated would add about one percentage point to the unemployment rate.

2 thoughts on “Unemployment Data–APRIL 2020

  1. Brookings Institute published, April 10, an article “Official jobless figures will miss the economic pain of the pandemic” by Jonathan Rockwell: “An estimated 46 million Americans have already been laid off or seen a reduction in hours as a result of COVID-19, according to Gallup survey data collected from March 27 to March 31, 2020. This amounts to around 28% of workers.”

  2. At the Economic Policy Institute Heidi Sheirholz on May 20 writes: “If all workers who are out of work as a result of the virus had shown up as unemployed, the unemployment rate would have been 23.5% in mid-April instead of 14.7%. And the situation is going to get worse before it gets better—reasonable forecasts predict that the unemployment rate will average over 30% in May and June.” The articles title says there’s apt to be a “long depression”. I hope NJFAC covers the details. The country needs to be prepared mentally for the repercussions of the lockdown and covid-19, economically we are facing a disaster. This morning I read the NJFAC link to the NYTimes OpEd piece by Derrick Hamilton and Angela G Blackwell, then a link to National Employment Law Center, and another link to Alliance for a Just Society. It leads to the conclusion of a major tragedy in the works. I do research out of curiosity, and I wrote the following at the end of March:

    Americans are not financially prepared for this. In September 2017 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a Financial Well-Being report and asked adults “How much money do you have in savings today (in cash,checking, and savings account balances)?” This is called “Liquid savings.” 
    less than $250  — 24%
    less than $1,000 — 35%
    less than $5,000 — 54%
    less than $20,000 —  73%  American adults answered. 
    Meaning the majority are not prepared for an extended loss of income. 

    The Prosperity Now web page, Scorecard, found that — Nationwide 25.4% of credit card holders have reached the 75% of credit limit on their cards; 
    Those who have saved for emergencies — 57.8% have saved —  42.2% have not saved
    Consumers with Debt in Collections — 21.2%

    Another poll asked about missing a paycheck, every two weeks, would it be a difficulty? The American Payroll Association reports 74% said yes; 40% said a major difficulty, and 34% said a slight difficulty. A Harris poll found that respondents say they always (23%) or usually (17%) or sometimes (38%) live paycheck to paycheck, for a total of 78%. 

    That’s what I wrote. I look at the Social Security Administration report on wages for 2018, latest year, and see that the lower half of all workers, 83 million workers, earn a collective total of $1.2 trillion, which averages to $14,800 a year, less than a full-time year-round minimum wage worker. The collective total, $1.2 trillion, is also less than 8% of the total national income using the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation total national income figure of $15.6 trillion. Pay for half is very low, and now the assistance from the shutdown-lockout shelter-in-place is insufficient.

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