February 2012


A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 13.8
million, and the jobless rate was 9.0 percent. [BLS]



African American




Asian**                                   6.3%
Persons with a disability**


Men 20 years and over


Women 20 years and over


Teens (16-19 years)


Black teens


Officially unemployed

12.8 million


Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job:  8.1 million
People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.6 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)  6.4 million
Total: 27.3 million (16.9% of the labor force)

Source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

**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 2010, the latest year available, that number was 16.8 million, 17.0 percent of full-time, full-year workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the  Census, 9/2011).

In December, 2011, the latest month available, the number of job openings was 3.4 millionup from 3.1 million in NovemberAlthough the number of job openings remained below the 4.4 million openings when the recession began in December 2007, the number of job openings has increased 39 percent since the end of the recession in June 2009.” Job Openings and Labor Turnover Estimates, February 7, 2012.+  Thus there are now 8 job-wanters for each available job.


Employment-population ratio 1/1948 to 1/2012

The Waste [of output] by Paul Krugman August 11, 2011, blog
cumulative loss because of recession: $2.8 Tr.

Mass layoffsIn December, employers took 1,384 mass layoff actions involving 145,648 workers. Mass layoff events increased by 52 from November, and associated initial claims increased by 14,021. In 2011, annual totals for events and initial claims were at their lowest levels since 2007.

Mass layoffs:  Review 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 December (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the year for total nonfarm and total private; the level was little changed for government. Several industries saw increases in the number of job openings over the year, while the number of job openings decreased for federal government.The South region experienced an increase in the number of job openings over the year.”