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Latest Unemployment Numbers Reveal Something We Haven't Seen Since '78


U.S. employers added 169,000 jobs in August, nudging the unemployment rate down from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

“[T]he number of unemployed persons, at 11.3 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.3 percent, changed little in August,” the report notes.

“The civilian labor force participation rate edged down to 63.2 percent in August,” the report adds.

In fact, and this is worth noting, the last time the labor force participation rate was this low was in August 1978:

Oh, and here's an interesting nugget: the motion picture industry got hit hard in August.

"Within information, the motion picture and sound recording industry lost 22,000 jobs in August, following a gain of 8,000 in July," the report reads.

The U-6 unemployment rate, considered to be a broader measure of the actual unemployment situation in the U.S., fell from July's 14.3 percent rate to 13.7 percent in August.

"The employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, was essentially unchanged," the report reads.

Here’s unemployment broken up by group:

  • Men: 7.1 Percent (previous: 7.0 percent)
  • Adult women: 6.3 percent (previous: 6.8 percent)
  • Teenagers: 22.7 percent (previous: 24.0 percent)
  • Whites: 6.4 percent (previous: 6.6 percent)
  • Blacks: 13.0 percent(previous: 13.7 percent)
  • Hispanics: 9.3 percent (previous: 9.1 percent)
  • Asians (not seasonally adjusted): 5.1 percent (previous: 5.0 percent)

The number of people on long-term unemployment (i.e. those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged at 4.3 million. This number accounts for approximately 37.9 percent of total unemployed.

The long-term unemployment rate has declined by 733,000.

The number of persons “marginally attached” to the labor force (2.3 million) declined by 219,000 from a year earlier.

“These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey,” the report adds.

It continues:

Among the marginally attached, there were 866,000 discouraged workers in August, essentially unchanged from a year earlier.

Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

FINAL THOUGHT: The jobless rate would be 10.8 percent if labor force participation were at January 2009 levels.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

Featured image AP photo.


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