Friday, December 05, 2008

Jobless Rate Understates Problem

Just to make us feel worse about things:

According to the Labor Department, the number of unemployed workers rose by 251,000 in November. But the number of people who were outside of the labor force — that is, neither working nor looking for work — rose by much more: 637,000. These people aren’t counted as unemployed in the government’s statistics, because they are not looking for work. Many of them, presumably, have stopped looking for work because they didn’t think they could find a good job.

If you take a broader measure — one that tries to account for them — you see a darker picture of the labor market. The share of all men ages 16 and over who are working is now at its lowest level since the government began keeping statistics in the 1940s. The share of women with jobs has fallen almost two percentage points from the peak it reached in 2000; at no other point in the past 50 years has the share of employed women has fallen so much from its peak.

Even among those who still have jobs — who, of course, make up a huge majority of the population — the news wasn’t good. The number of people working a part-time job because they couldn’t find a full-time job rose by 621,000 last month. These people count as employed, but obviously many of them are struggling.

I've been kinda on the fence about bailouts for the big 3 (on account of not being an econ guy) but am increasingly worried about piling auto industry bankruptcy on top of all the volatility we already have.

As a job seeker, it's not pleasant to be reading all this what with my bills a-building and my savings a-dwindling.


mominem said...

ON the Other Hand I have been trying to fill a job for almost 6 months we have had trouble finding qualified candidates and one person we hired failed to report for work and two others quit for no good reason after a very short time.

alli said...

The unemployment rate always underestimates true unemployment.

Try U6, if you're looking for the broadest measure.