The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Karen Traeger

A Deceptive Job Recovery -- Real Unemployment at 16.8%


The real unemployment rate released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of 16.8%, is much worse than the official 9.7% rate reported for February. The long-sought improvement in the labor market is imperceptible at this time as more than 36,000 new jobless claims were filed.

The official unemployment rate only accounts for people who are out of work and actively seeking fulltime employment. The real rate, which takes into account part-time workers desiring full-time employment and discouraged job seekers, is a more accurate indicator of the labor market. The new data shows that 8,791 Americans were working part-time last month because they were unable to find full-time jobs and another 2,527 had given up looking for work. In addition, 5.2% of the employed work more than one job in order to support themselves and their families.

"With more than 14 million workers seeking employment, the need for federal investment in job creation is as strong as ever." said Michael J. Wilson, National Director of Americans for Democratic Action. "Congress must focus on the twin challenges of ensuring an adequate safety net for these families and rebuilding the American economy."

"While the number of jobless persons rose slightly last month, the average length of unemployment declined from a record 30.2 weeks in January to 29.7 weeks in February, which was still the second-highest figure on record." said Paul Manchester, ADA's Economic Advisor. "The decrease in the average duration of unemployment offset the increase in the number of unemployed. The Manchester Index therefore declined from 448.1 million total weeks of joblessness in January to 441.7 million in February. However, this remains the third highest level for the Manchester Index on record."

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