(U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS)

A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 8.5
million, and the jobless rate was 5.5 percent. [BLS]

African American
Asian**                                    6.7%
Persons with a disability**
Men 20 years and over
Women 20 years and over
Teen-agers (16-19 years)
Black teens
Officially unemployed
14.5 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 2.2 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)   5.9 million
Total: 29.5 million (18.3% of the labor force)


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 April, 2009, the latest month available, the number of job openings was only 2.5 million, according to the BLS, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Estimates, June 9, 2009.+ Thus there are nearly 12 job-wanters for each available job.[Numbers are not comparable with previous months as methods have been revised.]

Mass layoffs: “”Employers took 2,933 mass layoff actions in May that resulted in the separation of 312,880 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in May increased by 221 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims increased by 41,654. Over the year, the number of mass layoff events increased by 1,232 and associated initial claims increased by 132,322. Initial claims rose to its highest level on record, while events matched the peak level from March 2009, with data available back to 1995. In May, 1,331 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 165,802 initial claims. Over the year, manufacturing events and initial claims more than doubled. ….

Eleven of the 19 major industry sectors reported program highs in terms of average weekly initial claimants for the month of May—mining; construction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; retail trade; finance and insurance; real estate and rental and leasing; management of companies and enterprises; administrative and waste services; health care and social assistance; and accommodation and food services. Government also reported a program high in terms of average weekly initial claimants for the month of May.
The manufacturing sector accounted for 37 percent of all mass layoff events and 43 percent of initial claims filed in May 2009; a year earlier, manufacturing made up 25 percent of events and 32 percent of initial claims. This May, the number of manufacturing claimants was greatest in transportation equipment (46,816) and machinery (12,472). (See table 3.) The administrative and waste services sector accounted for 11 percent of mass layoff events and associated initial claims during the month..” (BLS, June 23, 2009)


*See Uncommon Sense #4 for an explanation of the unemployment measures.
**Not seasonally adjusted.
+”Since June 2007, the number of job openings has trended downward by 2.3 million, or 47 percent. In April, small declines in the job openings rate occurred in most industries; none of these declines were statistically significant. The job openings rate increased significantly for government due to an increase in job opportunities for temporary workers for Census 2010.