March 2010


  A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 13.3 
million, and the jobless rate was 8.6 percent. [BLS]



African American




Asian** 7.5%
Persons with a disability **


Men 20 years and over


Women 20 years and over


Teen-agers (16-19 years)


Black teens


Officially unemployed

15.0 million



Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job:  9.1 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.)  6.0 million

Total: 30.1 million (18.8% 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 2008, the latest 
year available, that number was 17.8 million, 17.1 percent of full-time, full-year workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the  Census, 2009).

In February, 2010, the latest month available, the number of job
openings was only 2.7 million
, with no change from January, according to the BLS, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Estimates, April 6, 2010.
+ Thus there are now 11 job-wanters for each available job.[Numbers are not comparable with previous months as methods have been revised.]

Comparing Long-Term Unemployment: 1999-2009


Source:   Change in Payroll Employment, Historical Data

Mass layoffs: “Employers took 1,570 mass layoff actions in February that resulted in the separation of 155,718 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 action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in February fell by 191 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims decreased by 26,543. Both events and initial claims have decreased in 5 out of the last 6 months. In February, 376 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 43,100 initial claims. Both figures declined over the month to their lowest levels since August 2007.”BLS, 3/23/10
“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)


+“Although little changed over the month, the level has trended upward since the most recent trough of 2.3 million in July 2009. The job openings level was little changed in February for most industries and all four regions.In February, the number of job openings was little different from 12 months earlier for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The job openings level was little changed in most industries and in 3 of the 4 regions over the year; the level fell in the South.”

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