February 2011


A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 14.9
million, and the jobless rate was 9.7 percent. [BLS]

African American
Asian**                                  6.8%
Persons with a disability **
Men 20 years and over
Women 20 years and over
Teens (16-19 years)
Black teens
Officially unemployed
13.7 million


Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job:   8.3 million
People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.7 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)   6.4 million
Total: 28.4 million (17.8% 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 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 January, 2011, the latest month available, the number of job openings was 2.8 million, “little changed from 2.9 million in December. The job openings level has risen since 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, March 11, 2011.+ Thus there are now more than 10 job-wanters for each available job.

Source: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/news/2011/01/07/8849/employment-growth-continues-but-too-slowly-to-secure-recovery/

Employment-population ratio

Mass layoffs: “Employers took 1,586 mass layoff actions in November involving 152,816 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Each mass layoff involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in November decreased by 65 from the prior month, while the number of associated initial claims increased by 4,757. In November, 354 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 39,465 initial claims. Over the month, the number of manufacturing events decreased slightly, while associated initial claims increased by 2,027.” BLS, 12/22/10
“REVIEW OF 2009 For all of 2009, on a not seasonally adjusted basis, the total numbers of mass layoff events, at 28,030, and initial claims, at 2,796,456, reached their highest annual levels on record. Among the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy, manufacturing had the most initial claims in 2009 (1,137,106), followed by administrative and waste services (294,709) and construction (205,765). Manufacturing also had the largest over-the-year increase in total annual initial claims (+266,796), with retail trade (+57,283) and administrative and waste services (+48,039) experiencing the next largest increases. Among the major industry sectors, 12 registered series highs for both mass layoff events and initial claims in 2009: mining; construction; wholesale trade; retail trade; transportation and warehousing; finance and insurance; real estate and rental and leasing; management of companies and enterprises; administrative and waste services; health care and social assistance; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and accommodation and food services.
Among the 4 census regions, the Midwest reported the highest number of mass layoff initial claims filed during 2009 (892,202), followed by the West and the South. All 4 regions experienced over-the-year annual increases, with the largest increases taking place in the Midwest (+215,611). The Midwest, Northeast, and South also reached program highs for total initial claims in 2009. ….” (BLS, January 27, 2010)

+ “The number of job openings in November (not seasonally adjusted) increased from 12 months earlier for total nonfarm and total private. The level was little changed over the year for government. Over the year, the job openings level increased in seven industries and was essentially unchanged in the remaining industries. The job openings level was up over the year in all four regions.

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