December 2014


A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 10.4 million,
and the jobless rate was 6.7 percent. [BLS]

White      4.8%
African American 10.4%
Hispanic 6.5%
Asian**                           4.2%
Persons with a disability**     11.2%
Men 20 years and over 5.3%
Women 20 years and over 5.0%
Teens (16-19 years) 16.8%
Black teens 33.2%
Officially unemployed 8.7 million

*If the LFPR were at its pre-recession level, the unemployment rate in December 2014 would have been 9.1%  instead of 5.6%. [See “The Labor Force Participation Rate and Its Trajectory”]


Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job: 6.8 million
People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.3 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)  6.4 million
Total: 21.9 million (13.5% of the labor force)

Source: See also Current Employment Statistics–Highlights

**Not seasonally adjusted.
*See Uncommon Sense #4 for an explanation of the unemployment measures, and Is the Decline in the Labor Force Participation Rate During This Recession Permanent?.

In addition, millions more were working full-time, year-round, yet earned less than the official poverty level for a family of four. In 2013, the latest year available, that number was 18.5 million, 17.5 percent of full-time, full-year workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the Census, 9/2014).

In October 2014, the latest month available, the number of job openings was 4.8 million, “little changed from 4.7 million in September…The number of job openings was little changed for total private and declined for government in October.The number of job openings decreased for state and local government. The job openings level was little changed in all four regions.” Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, December 9, 2014.+ Thus there are 4.6 job-wanters for each available job.

Unemployment Rate Vastly Understates Labor Market Weakness


Private Employment Has Grown For 58 Months
(cbpp 1/9/15)

Long-Term Unemployment Remains Near Historic Highs
(cbpp 1/9/15)

The Share of the Population with a Job RemainsDepressed (cbpp 1/9/15)

GDP Fell Far Below What the Economy
Was Capable of Producing
CBPP 1/9/15

+“The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in October for total nonfarm and total private and was little changed for government. The job openings level increased over the year for many industries, including both professional and business services and accommodation and food services. The number of openings also increased over the year in all four regions.”