My Two Cents

Unemployment is worse

Chris Farrell Mar 6, 2009

The economy is sinking fast. The nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 651,000 in February and the unemoployment rate jumped to 8.1%. Since the recession began in December 2007, about 4.4 million jobs have been lost, and over half the increase came in the last 4 months.

But the real number to focus on is the total unemployed figure: It includes the traditional unemployment number, plus all marginally attached workers, plus the total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force. That figure is 14.8%, up from 13.9% in January and 9.5% a year ago.

Going over the industry numbers the decline was brutal–across the board with one big and important exception: Health care continued to add jobs in February, with a gain of 27,000.

In a trend that has been happening throughout the recession the previous months numbers have been revised–and their worse. Total nonfarm employment for December was revised from -577,000 to -681,000 and January was revised from -598,000 to -655,000.

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