April 2009


OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT: 8.9%   A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 7.7
million, and the jobless rate was 5.0 percent. [BLS]



African American




Asian**                                     6.6%
Persons with a disability**


Men 20 years and over


Women 20 years and over


Teen-agers (16-19 years)


Black teens


Officially unemployed

13.7 million



Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job:  8.9 million
People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.1 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)  5.9 million

Total: 28.5 million (17.7% of the labor force)

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

In addition, millions more were working full-time, year-round, yet earned
less than the official poverty level for a family of four. In 2007, the latest 
year available, that number was 17.6 million, 16.2 percent of full-time workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the  Census, 2008).

In March, 2009, the latest month available, the number of job openings was only 2.7 million, according to the BLS, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Estimates, May 12, 2009.+ Thus there are more than 10 job-wanters for each available job.[Numbers are not comparable with previous months as methods have been revised.]

Mass layoffs: “Employers initiated 3,489 mass layoff events in the first quarter of 2009 that resulted in the separation of 558,909 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both the number of extended mass layoff events and associated separations reached their highest first quarter levels in program history (with data available back to 1996), and both measures more than doubled from the first quarter of 2008. The number of separations reached first quarter program highs in 12 of 18 major industry sectors, all 4 geographic regions, and 32 states. Separations due to business demand reasons (especially slack work/insufficient demand) set a program high, while those associated with financial issues reached a high for the first quarter. Each category more than tripled over the year. Twenty-seven percent of employers reporting an extended layoff in the first quarter of 2009 indicated they anticipated some recall of workers, the lowest proportion in program history. First quarter 2009 layoff data are preliminary and are subject to revision.” (BLS, May 12, 2009)

*See Uncommon Sense #4 for an explanation of the unemployment measures.
**Not seasonally adjusted.
+”The number of job openings has trended downward since mid- 2007, and, at 2.7 million in March, monthly openings were down 2.1 million, or 44 percent, since the most recent high point in June 2007. The decline in the job openings rate at the total nonfarm and total private levels was due to small, nonsignificant declines in nearly every industry and a significant decline in retail trade. ….Over the 12 months ending in March, the job openings rate (not seasonally adjusted) fell significantly in nearly every industry and in three of the four regions. The rate did not change significantly
in the Northeast region and in construction; information; other services; and federal government.

Source: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/no_good_news.html