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December 4, 2009
1:28 PM

CONTACT: Americans for Democratic Action

David Card 202-785-5980  

Real Unemployment Rate Falls to 17.2%; Positive Signs May be Temporary

WASHINGTON - December 4 - The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced today that the unemployment rate for November fell to 10%.  This figure represents 15.4 million officially unemployed people. 

In reality there are over 26 million Americans who are either jobless or underemployed.  The “real” jobless rate takes into account part-time workers seeking full-time work, discouraged job seekers and persons furloughed from full-time to part-time status.  The real rate of unemployment is 17.2% and is a more accurate indicator of the labor market.

ADA National Director Michael J. Wilson:  “The good news – that the official unemployment rate dropped two tenths of one percent – is almost meaningless to the millions of people who are unemployed and looking for work.  The real rate of 17.2 percent – or almost 1 in 5 workers – means that this will be a holiday season that only Ebenezer Scrooge could love.  In addition, the Manchester Index shows that the average duration of unemployment actually increased, from 26.9 weeks to 28.5.  In other words, people are out of work for seven months, on average.  What does that do to the family budget for housing, college tuition, and transportation – not to mention necessities like food and medicine?

“According to the Manchester Index, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is worse now than at any other time since WWII; in addition, people are being left unemployed for longer amounts of time.

“With over 26 million unemployed or underemployed, 23 consecutive months of job losses, and the expectation of double digit unemployment rates for the near future, economic recovery seems far from imminent.  While today’s jobless report shows some positive signs, we have a long way to go.

“Now is the time for the Congress to begin to work with the Administration on a broad, comprehensive jobs program.  The AFL-CIO has a detailed 5- point program, as does the Economic Policy Institute.  In addition, ADA has focused on youth unemployment, stressing that additional funding for Job Corps, AmeriCorps, and Peace Corps will assist young people getting their first jobs in credible, existing federal programs that are as ‘shovel ready’ as they come.”

ADA is America's most experienced independent liberal lobbying organization. In the spirit of the New Deal and ADA founders Eleanor Roosevelt, renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, and former Senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey we lobby through coalition partnerships, through direct advocacy, and through the media.

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