News You Won’t Read in the Newspapers: Unemployment breaks 10%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics re-organized their website, and it took me an extra four minutes to find out what the unemployment rate was for July.

Why would a re-organization slow down finding that info? Because I do not look for the “headline” or U3 measure of unemployment. I look for the “broad” or U6 measure, which takes into account those “marginally attached” to the labor force as well as those working part time who would rather be working full time.

You might not have ever seen these figures, so I’m going to try to copy the whole table, if it works … lessee, View/PageSource … uh … search for <table … copy, paste … come back to Docudharma … OK, here goes nothing …

Series Id:           LNS13327709
Seasonal Adjusted
Series title:        (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total
                     employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor
                     force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status:  Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data:        Percent
Age:                 16 years and over
Percent/rates:       Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus
                     marg attached


Yoopie! It Worked!

Now, this is seasonally adjusted … unadjusted given below (the figures are worse in summer and better at Christmas) …

Yup, even though GDP was up by a “healthy 1.9%” last quarter … broad unemployment rose from 9.1% before the start of 08Q2 to 9.9% at the end of 08Q2 … and July is up to 10.3%.

And, no, you won’t read these figures in the newspaper … newspapers go by the press release, they do not go looking for the alternate measures (maybe if they did, the alternate measures would be even harder to find).

So, what do the newspapers get?

They get the press release based on the official figures, where someone in the survey must be counted as actively seeking work, anyone in school but looking for work is excluded, and anyone working an hour a week or more is ticked off as “employed”:

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonal Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent
Age:                 16 years and over


This is not to say that the BLS spins bad news … they give is straight in an expert drone … and the headlines will still tell a story of rising unemployment … but the official headline unemployment rate numbers will obscure the magnitude of the problem:


  The unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent, and nonfarm payroll employment

continued to trend down in July (-51,000), the Bureau of Labor Statistics of

the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.  Employment continued to fall in

construction, manufacturing, and several service-providing industries, while

health care and mining continued to add jobs.  Average hourly earnings rose by

6 cents, or 0.3 percent, over the month.

Unemployment (Household Survey Data)

  Both the number of unemployed persons (8.8 million) and the unemployment rate

(5.7 percent) rose in July.  Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed

persons has increased by 1.6 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 1.0

percentage point.  (See table A-1.)

  Over the month, the unemployment rates for adult men (5.3 percent) and whites

(5.1 percent) edged up while the rates for adult women (4.6 percent), blacks (9.7

percent), and Hispanics (7.4 percent) were little changed.  The jobless rate for

teenagers increased to 20.3 percent in July.  The unemployment rate for Asians was

4.0 percent in July, not seasonally adjusted.  (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

 Among the unemployed, the number of reentrants to the labor force in July

rose by 207,000 to 2.7 million.  The number has increased by 623,000 over the

past 12 months.  The number of unemployed persons who had lost their last job

was about unchanged over the month at 4.4 million, but has risen by 778,000

over the year.  (See table A-8.)


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  1. But… but… those 4.6 (10.3 – 5.7) percenters are the independently wealthy thanks to the amazing economy and economic leadership of Bush, Greenspan, and Bernanke. They don’t need to work because their assets work for them on bullish markets… or something like that.

    • BruceMcF on August 1, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    … even though I am underemployed, I am employed.

  2. will get changed no matter who (of the two big parties) are in charge.  It happened under Clinton (I think it was the switch to ‘core inflation’ that happened during his tenure).  I seem to remember it was during Reagan’s that we started not counting the underemployed and chronic unemployed.

  3. the official headline unemployment rate numbers will obscure the magnitude of the problem:

    It’s designed that way…by (IIRC) a long-dead GOP prez to make his party look good, when in fact they are (and have been for the last 70 or so years) abysmal on all economic issues.

    Oh, damn.  I had that link bookmarked.  It’s gone now, “upgraded” to a less useful and definitely more difficult-to-comprehend thingie.

    (Long day.  Sorry.  Let’s try again):


    BTW, you don’t comment with the link you want; you comment with the link you can find.  To paraphrase some idiot in the GOP Department of Defense.

    • Temmoku on August 2, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    my son will join those going off the Unemployment rolls.

    He has been unemployed since November but didn’t start collecting until January…He is having a terrible time finding a job. He will still be looking but how will the government know?

    My sister’s kid found a job at WalMart!!!!! She didn’t want to take it because it was only $8.10 an hour and she has 2 kids. When she went in for the training, they told her they only need 30 people but hired 150. They are doing a winnowing and plan to “eliminate” the others within the next 60 days. She has a terrible work record and I don’t think she’ll make the cut. In fact she has almost quit twice in her first week.

    Hard times are here.

  4. …so the GOP’ers can pat themselves on the back for a job well done, right?  

    Of course, when all the unemployed stop buying pretty much everything except gas/utilities, and food–if they can even buy those necessities–the GOP’ers will be mystified again about why the “consumer confidence” and spending are still down, while Exxon, et al are all doing so well…

    • kj on August 2, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    (as in a few weeks ago), and after months of temp work and a willingness to work part-time (that’s what over extended credit cards are made for) and an exhaustive background check (which was just silly, it’s not like what i do is important), and 16 other hoops to stumble through, AND the unfortunate and untimely (for her) death of a co-worker, i am now employed with benefits.  and consider myself damn lucky. it only took my husband a year to find fairly steady employment (although he had a friend who employed him long-distance during that year because he was pissed about the whole situation that caused his unemployment in the first place) it only took two moves, that we paid for ourselves, to get here.  rambling, sorry.  it’s a fucking nightmare out there/here.


    • Viet71 on August 2, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    the big looming domestic issue is the FICA (social security) tax.

    FICA is imposed only on EARNED income of up to about $105,000.  It is not imposed on the top $5 million of income earned by a Goldman Sachs partner making $5,105,000.  Nor is it imposed at all on even the first $1 of investment earnings received by a trust fund jockey.

    A 10% real unemployment rate means the FICA tax is sucking wind.  Which means social security and especially medicare are flashing red lights.

    Thank you, shrub.  Oh, and thanks to you too, Bill Clinton.

    • banger on August 2, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    are also cooked to make things look better. Still, the very people who are most on the edge are more worried about Obama being an islamo-fascist (and the antichrist–yes there are many people who believe that) than the health and welfare of their families.  

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