Unemployment and Things that make me go uh-oh.

Employment report is out for September 2009. Not good. Granted it’s not the horror show we were seeing early in 2009. The decline of 263,000 in total employment is much better than the 500,000 and 700,000 losses we were seeing earlier this year. But this has been happening a long time now. That’s a lot of accumulated loss. Even if the wound isn’t bleeding profusely, it will still kill you if the bleeding goes on long enough.  Graph below is courtesy of Calculated Risk. It shows how this recession (small depression?) has had the largest % loss of jobs since the Great Depression AND it has the makings of the slowest recovery since then also.


But the headline numbers, 273,000 jobs lost and 9.8% unemployment don’t tell the full story.

  • Total hours worked continues to decline. (see Angry Bear).
  • The U-6 Unemployment rate, which includes some more discouraged workers not counted in the headline rate and also includes workers “marginally attached to the workforce” is now 17.0%.
  • Long-term unemployed (more than 26 weeks) is now 3.5% of the workforce, 5.4 million workers.
  • the labor force declined 571,000 — the only reason that unemployment didn’t exceed 10.0% [last] month–. This means well over half a million people gave up hope of having a job last month.  Of course that’s  a rational response given that so many workers have been unemployed so long without finding replacement jobs.

Overall, this tells us that the stimulus has not been enough or big enough.  Employment has not stabilized.   What’s worse, is the length of time people are being unemployed.  The economy is simply not creating replacement/new jobs.  Not only does this create a serious economic problem (unemployed people don’t spend much money), but it is of course a tremendous human cost.  People, families, and children suffer.  Eventually, extended long-term unemployment for large numbers poses a huge social cost and social risk.