May 2015

MAY 2015 Unemployment Data–the Full Count*

A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 9.8 million,
and the jobless rate was 6.3 percent. [BLS]

White      4.7%
African American 10.2%
Hispanic 6.7%
Asian**                           4.1%
Persons with a disability**     10.1%
Men 20 years and over 5.0%
Women 20 years and over 5.0%
Teens (16-19 years) 17.9%
Black teens 30.1%
Officially unemployed 8.7 million

*If the LFPR were at its pre-recession level, the unemployment rate in May 2015 would have been 7.2%  instead of 5.5%. [See “The Labor Force Participation Rate and Its Trajectory”]


Working part-time because can’t find a full-time job: 6.7 million
People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 1.9 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)  6.1 million
Total: 21.5 million (13.1% 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 March 2015, the latest month available, the number of job openings was 5.0 million, “little changed from February. …..The job openings level was little changed for total private and government. Job openings decreased in health care and social assistance but increased in arts, entertainment, and recreation. The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions.” Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, May 12, 2015.+ Thus there are 4.3 job-wanters for each available job.

Unemployment Rate Vastly Understates Labor Market Weakness

Private Employment Has Grown For 63 Months
(cbpp 6/5/15)

Long-Term Unemployment ReminasHigh (cbpp 6/5/15)

Old Workers Hit New All Time High As All April Jobs Go To The “55 And Older ZeroHedge, 5/15

The Share of the Population with a Job Modestly Higher(cbpp 6/5/15)

Modest Wage Growth, cbpp, 6/5/15

LFP Rate nearly back to levels of late 1970’s Zero Hedge 5/15

Job Losses Far Exceeded Other Recessions CBPP [and recovered more slowly]

GDP Fell Far Below What the Economy Was Capable of ProducingCBPP 5/8/15

+“The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in March for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Job openings increased over the year for many industries including professional and business services, health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services. Job openings decreased over the year in mining and logging. The number of openings increased over the year in all four regions.”