Gallup reports that U.S. unemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.1 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January and 8.5 percent in December.
“The 0.5-percentage-point increase in February compared with January is the largest such month-to-month change Gallup has recorded in its not-seasonally adjusted measure since December 2010, when the rate rose 0.8 points to 9.6 percent from 8.8 percent in November,” Gallup’s chief economist Dennis Jacobe writes.
“A year ago, Gallup recorded a February increase of 0.4 percentage points, to 10.3 percent from 9.9 percent in January 2011,” he adds.
In addition to Gallup's reported number of unemployed U.S. workers, they also found that 10.0 percent are "working part time but want full-time work."
"This percentage is similar to the 10.1 percent in January, but is higher than the 9.6 percent of February 2011," Jacobe writes.
Take the two together (the unemployed and part-time seeking full-time) and Gallup’s underemployment number increased to 19.1 percent in February from 18.7 percent in January.
This is an improvement from the 19.9 percent seen in February 2011. But how did Gallup gets these results and how do they stack up next to the Government's stats (oh, also, keep in mind the regular caveats that go along with these type of surveys and their results)?
Jacobe explains [emphases added]:
In mid-February, Gallup reported that its U.S. unemployment rate had increased to 9.0 percent from 8.3 percent in mid-January. The mid-month reading normally provides a relatively good estimate of the government's unadjusted unemployment rate for the month.
Assuming the government's unadjusted rate increases -- from its 8.8 percent in January -- to at least match Gallup's mid-month measurement for February, then the government should also report an increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February. If the government's unadjusted unemployment rate increases to the degree that Gallup's has from mid-month to mid-month, then the government's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate could show an even larger increase.
The consensus forecast, however, is for no change in the government's unemployment rate. February jobless claims were running at roughly 350,000 during the month, implying a relatively stable unemployment rate. Additionally, Wednesday's ADP report suggesting that private-sector jobs increased by more than 200,000 in February is also somewhat supportive of a stable unemployment rate forecast.
Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup's unemployment and underemployment measures show a substantial deterioration since mid-January. In this context, the increase in unemployment as measured by Gallup may, at least partly, reflect growth in the workforce, as more Americans who had given up looking for work become slightly more optimistic and start looking for work again. So while there may be positive signs, the reality Gallup finds is that more Americans are looking for work now than were doing so just six weeks ago.