Friday, October 11, 2013

19.93 Million are Unemployed and Want a Job

We've heard a lot about the unemployment rate for the past 5 years, but if one digs deeper into the numbers, it's really quite astounding how many people are actually out of work.

Almost 20 million Americans are really unemployed --- but if we also included part-time workers, we have 27 million people who currently want a full-time job --- and not just the 21.3 million who were reported in the government's lesser referred to U-6 category.

Yet many un- or misinformed politicians are telling the jobless to get off the couch and get a job, when there is only one job opening (either part-time, full-time or temporary) for every 6 unemployed workers (See all the data at the Economic Populist). What is it about simple math that our government leaders don't understand and/or fail to act upon?

As of September 6, 2013 (according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics due to the government shutdown) the number of Americans who are not counted in any measure of the unemployment rate (and who currently want a job) is 6,291,000. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics and check "persons who currently want a job")

As it was noted at the Conservable Economist: In August 2013 the Current Population Survey asked those who are not in the labor force, and are not counted in the unemployment rate (because they were "discouraged workers" and were no longer looking for work) if they would like a job. About 6.3 million answered "yes."

The BLS began calculating the U-7 rate in 1976, but discontinued using it in 1994 in favor of the current U-6 rate. During the 1982 recession the U-7 rate reached 15.3%, its highest level as of October 2009 when the officially reported unemployment rate had peaked at an adjusted 10% --- meaning, the U-7 rate at that time was the highest since the last year of the Great Depression in 1941. But PBS reports that now in 2013, the U-7 rate is even higher at 16.2%.

Those who are still counted in the U-3 unemployment rate and who were unemployed for 27 weeks or longer (the long-term unemployed) numbered 4,297,000. Now add that to other 6,291,000 who are no longer being counted for a total of 10,588,000 who want work, but remained unemployed..

Now add to that, 2,342,000 Americans who are still counted in the U-6 unemployment rate who were "marginally attached" to the labor force (including "discouraged workers") who currently are neither working nor looking for work, but indicate that they want and are available for a job -- and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Whereas "discouraged workers" are a subset of the marginally attached who have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for a job. (See directly below.)

  • Marginally attached to the labor force: Meaning, not in labor force, searched for work and is available for work (2,342,000) "Data refers to persons who want a job, have searched for work during the prior 12 months, and were available to take a job during the reference week, but had not looked for work in the past 4 weeks."
  • Discouraged workers (866,000) "Includes those who did not actively look for work in the prior 4 weeks for reasons such as thinks no work available, could not find work, lacks schooling or training, employer thinks too young or old, and other types of discrimination."

Many of the jobs gained since the end of recession were part-time, but many others were also temporary, which by examining a JOLTS report from the Labor Department, may very well account for much of the churn in the labor market --- because older workers (who didn't lose their jobs during the recession) were working longer to recoup their losses from their 401ks, pensions and home equity --- and not because new people were entering the job market. Only 11.3 million unemployed Americans are currently reported in the "official" U-3 rate of 7.3% --- but look at these numbers below:

2,342,000 Number of unemployed Americans who were marginally attached and only counted in the U-6 rate of 13.6%
10,588,000 The number of unemployed Americans who were wanted work, which includes the 4,297,000 who were unemployed more than 27 weeks that the Bureau of Labor Statistic reports as " long-term unemployed". (Of those, only 1.4 million receive extended federal benefits until December 28, 2013 when the program will be cancelled.)
7,003,000 Those unemployed less than 27 weeks (the "short term unemployed") who may quality for State UI benefits -- up to 26 weeks in most States, 20 weeks in others. (Of those, there are currently about 2.5 million Americans who receive regular State benefits -- meaning, they were all laid off just this year).
19,933,000 Added up as a sub-total for the total number of unemployed, but who want a job.
7,690,000 Now add part-time workers, those who also want full-time work.
27,623,000 This is the total number of Americans who currently want a full-time job. (Some say 35 million)
1,136,259 Now add the number Americans who began receiving a Social Security benefit, who might have otherwise still been working today (* See the full explanation further below.)
28,759,259 The grand total number (out of the 89,988,000 who are not considered part of the labor force) who might otherwise have been working full-time today, if it were not for the Great Recession.
    • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported 8.7 million job losses between the start of the recession in December of 2007 and June of 2009 when the recession "officially" ended.
    • There have also been about 3 million students graduating from high school every single year for 5 years since the Great Recession ended (not counting college graduates) for a at total of 15 million high school grads --- so how many jobs were created during that same time --- 7 million?
    • According to a study by Rutgers, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, about half of high school grads are unemployed -- who may never have ever entered the labor force.
    • Some have argued the US only needs 1.2 million jobs per year (or 100,000 per month), including public sector jobs, to keep up with additional new workers in the labor supply caused by population growth.
    • But for the sake of argument, we can say that still, only 7 million jobs were created from the end of the recession until today (private sector gains minus public sector losses). If it can only mean: if people aren't being hired, then many are also not being counted.

* Full Explanation of Social Security Numbers as Noted Above: As of September 2013 there 8,925,372 disabled workers receiving SSDI benefits. In December of 2009 there were 7,789,113 --- for a net gain of 1,136,259 additional SSDI awards near the peak of the officially reported unemployment rate. The date "December 2009" was used because, if someone were laid off in December 2007 (the official start of the recession) and collected the maximum of 99 weeks of extended federal unemployment benefits, then later filed a disability claim (excluding any waiting period for appeals, etc.), this could be considered a fair assessment of the number of SSDI awards, especially as it's related to the reports that people filed disability claims when their jobless benefits ran out (which was debunked in a study, but for the sake of argument, was considered in this assessment). NOTE: This number does not include the number of older unemployed workers who were forced into taking an early Social Security retirement at the age 62, but it also might cancel out those who might have filed for disability benefits anyway, regardless of whether they became unemployed or not --- albeit, this is only a rough estimate based on current available data. (More detailed data can be gleaned from all the BLS links below and at these posts: Report: Disability Claims and Awards Declined and The Last Word on Social Security Disability

As an aside: There are also other persons marginally attached to the labor force for reasons other than "discouragement" (1,476,000) which includes those who did not actively look for work in the prior 4 weeks for such reasons as school or family responsibilities, ill health, and transportation problems, as well as a number for whom reason for non-participation was not determined.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Sources:

U-3 Unemployment Rate: Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate) - 7.3 percent
U-6 Unemployment Rate: Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part-time for economic reasons as a percent of the civilian labor force, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force - 13.6 percent
U-7 Unemployment Rate: Total reported by PBS - 16.18 percent

My Other Links on this Subject:

October 10, 2013 - U-7 Unemployment Rate is 16.2% --- Millions Not Counted 

October 9, 2013 - The Long-Long-Term Unemployed (A Year or Longer) 

September 28, 2013 - Older and Unemployed? You are SOL 

August 26, 2013 - Long-Term Unemployed Baby Boomers in 2013 

July 7, 2013 - Count the long-term unemployed 99ers in 2013 

July 2, 2013 - Jobless Benefits DO NOT Cause Unemployment 

June 28, 2013 - Congressional Hearing: Long-term Unemployment for Older Workers 

June 25, 2013 - Long-term Unemployment: Hysteresis, Older Workers & Disability 

April 29, 2013 - Congress Still Ignores Long-Term Unemployed 

April 22, 2013 - Long-Term Unemployed: "Tainted Goods" 

May 13, 2013 - Long-Term Unemployment: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Poll) 

September 30, 2013 - For High School Grads, the Labor Market is Brutal 

September 29, 2013 - Only 1/3 of the Unemployed Receive Jobless Benefits 

September 22, 2013 - 35 Million could be Unemployed in US 

September 18, 2013 - Why are the Unemployed and Poor Despised? 

August 29, 2013 - Millions of Unemployed not Counted 

July 7, 2013 - Count the long-term unemployed 99ers in 2013 

July 7, 2013 - First 6 months in 2013 - 7.5 Million Jobs Lost 

April 8, 2013 - 3.4 Million More Jobs Needed in 2013 

April 05, 2013 - ½ Million More Unemployed Lost in Labor Statistics 

May 13, 2012 - The GOP was Dead Wrong About the Unemployed 

May 3, 2012 - 8 Million Unemployed Not Counted by Labor Dept 

January 7, 2012 - 15 Million Americans Jobless Over 2 years 

December 17, 2011 - Where did 15 million jobless Americans go? 

November 10, 2011 - 6 Million Graduates Not Counted in Unemployment Rate 

September 9, 2011 - The Truth about Unemployment Benefits 

July 29, 2011 - 14 Million Unemployed - No Jobs and No Benefits!


  1. Since 1979 the manufacturing sector has lost 7.5 million jobs (now add the "muliplier effect" to this.) Now consider how many good-paying jobs we'd have today if not for offshoring these jobs overseas.

  2. Where can I find this info?

    The Hill (from December 2010) - The federal agency that tracks unemployment is changing its methods in an effort to more accurately gauge the severity of the nation's jobless woes. Citing "an unprecedented rise" in long-term unemployment, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced it is changing its upper-limit for tracking long-term unemployment from two years to five. Beginning next month, BLS will send out modified forms that will allow people surveyed to mark if they have been without jobs for "260 weeks or over." Previously, the form had only asked if jobless stints had lasted "99 weeks or over...According to the BLS, almost 10 percent of the country's 15 million unemployed [as of 2010] have been looking for work for more than two years."

  3. ALSO SEE:

    Employment Research and Program Development

  4. I have come to the conclusion:

    On one end of the spectrum we have high school grads (and dropouts) who only have a slight chance of finding any job at all --- whereas on the opposite side of the spectrum, we have older workers over 50 years old with a Ph.D. and/or 35 years of work experience who can't find a job either. But younger people (say around 30 years old with a Masters degree) might find a job bartending, driving a cab, working at Walmart or flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant.

  5. It's OK to be an older worker – as long as you don't lose your job (By Allison Linn, CNBC)

    If an older worker loses a job, the length of time that person will stay unemployed is typically much longer than for any other age group...There were 31.6 million employed people aged 55 and over in July, according to the BLS, up from 25.9 million in July of 2007...It generally takes much longer for people who are 55 or older to find a new job if they do become unemployed.

    “It is much more of a catastrophic event if you lose your job at 57, 58,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. That’s an age when many people are at risk of falling through the cracks, because they have not yet saved enough to retire and also are too young to collect Social Security and Medicare.