Charts of the Day: U.S. Unemployment above 10%, Underemployment near 20%

With the jobs numbers coming out tomorrow, it bears noting that the official U.S. data have been marred by low labour participation rates. The reality is that while the jobs picture is improved, many of the long-time unemployed have dropped out of the labour force and are not being counted as unemployed as a result. This has led to the unemployment rate declining at a rate which is not consistent with the fundamental picture in the labour market.

The data from polling firm Gallup do not have this problem.  Below is their chart of the unemployment rate for 2010-2011.

Gallup unemployment rate 2011-2011

Regarding underemployment, Gallup says:

The percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work worsened considerably in February, increasing to 9.6% of the workforce from 9.1% at the end of January. A larger percentage of the U.S. workforce is working part time and wanting full-time work now than was the case a year ago (9.3%).

Gallup underemployment rate 2011-2011

Underemployment Surges in February

Underemployment, a measure that combines part-time workers wanting full-time work with those who are unemployed, surged in February to 19.9%. This resulted from the combination of a sharp 0.5-point increase since the end of January in the percentage unemployed and a 0.5-point increase in the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work. Underemployment is now higher than it was at this point a year ago (19.7%).

Gallup underemployment rate 2011-2011 -2

Source: Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment Hitting 10.3% in February

4 Comments
  1. @jporter says

    So it looks like we’re in no better shape than a year ago. Do you think this is simply a reflection of a lagging indicator or is there more to be concerned about here?

    1. Edward Harrison says

      Jeff, I think employment is a lagging indicator that reflects where we have come from (more tha where we are going at this point). What concerns me a bit is how Gallup says that February was a bad month, with the underemployment rate increasing. Read the text associated with the charts at the link i the post. They say:

      “Warren Buffet said Wednesday on CNBC that the U.S. unemployment rate should be in the low 7% range by late 2012. If that is going to be the case, the job creation environment must change dramatically from what it is today.”

      It makes it seem as if there is something else going on. I know the Challenger survey shows a new uptick in planned layoffs (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/02/us-usa-economy-jobs-challenger-idUSTRE7212N920110302). But the other employment data show improvement. Tomorrow’s jobs number is going to be interesting.

      1. @jporter says

        Interesting indeed. Thanks Edward.

  2. @jporter says

    So it looks like we’re in no better shape than a year ago. Do you think this is simply a reflection of a lagging indicator or is there more to be concerned about here?

    1. Edward Harrison says

      Jeff, I think employment is a lagging indicator that reflects where we have come from (more tha where we are going at this point). What concerns me a bit is how Gallup says that February was a bad month, with the underemployment rate increasing. Read the text associated with the charts at the link i the post. They say:

      “Warren Buffet said Wednesday on CNBC that the U.S. unemployment rate should be in the low 7% range by late 2012. If that is going to be the case, the job creation environment must change dramatically from what it is today.”

      It makes it seem as if there is something else going on. I know the Challenger survey shows a new uptick in planned layoffs (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/02/us-usa-economy-jobs-challenger-idUSTRE7212N920110302). But the other employment data show improvement. Tomorrow’s jobs number is going to be interesting.

      1. @jporter says

        Interesting indeed. Thanks Edward.

  3. fresnodan says

    If current trends continue…

    The NYT reported today that the president convened a special session of the US congress, the supreme court, all the govenors, all the mayors, and all the dog catchers. At this unprecedented gathering, the President stated: “With the onset of the great recession, we implemented policies to reduce unemployment, put us on a path to fiscal sustaninability, and design policies to assure the prosperity of our progeny.

    OH, but the unintended consequences are a b*tch! We were too damn successful!!!! We not only reached 0% unemployment, we are now at MINUS 33,856,740,597,247% unemployment! What does that even mean? Well, it means that there is now only 1 person in the US in the priviate sector doing any actual work. Fresno dan says that there is only one of him, and everybody from now on will have to mow their own damn lawn, rake their own damn leaves, and clean their own damn rain gutters…
    People, we can’t have the presdient, the speaker of the house, or the chief justive of the supreme court, cleaning leaves out of the rain gutters. I don’t know about you, but I hate cleaning leaves out of rain gutters…. the leaves and rotten and their are these disgusting worms in there….”

  4. Anonymous says

    If current trends continue…

    The NYT reported today that the president convened a special session of the US congress, the supreme court, all the govenors, all the mayors, and all the dog catchers. At this unprecedented gathering, the President stated: “With the onset of the great recession, we implemented policies to reduce unemployment, put us on a path to fiscal sustaninability, and design policies to assure the prosperity of our progeny.

    OH, but the unintended consequences are a b*tch! We were too damn successful!!!! We not only reached 0% unemployment, we are now at MINUS 33,856,740,597,247% unemployment! What does that even mean? Well, it means that there is now only 1 person in the US in the priviate sector doing any actual work. Fresno dan says that there is only one of him, and everybody from now on will have to mow their own damn lawn, rake their own damn leaves, and clean their own damn rain gutters…
    People, we can’t have the presdient, the speaker of the house, or the chief justive of the supreme court, cleaning leaves out of the rain gutters. I don’t know about you, but I hate cleaning leaves out of rain gutters…. the leaves and rotten and their are these disgusting worms in there….”

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