Economic Indicators | Jobs and Unemployment

Despite Today’s Relatively Positive Jobs Report, the Labor Market Remains Weak

Share this page:

The November employment report released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics contained some relatively positive news, with the establishment survey showing an increase of 203,000 jobs. Jobs growth occurred across most industries, including gains in manufacturing, retail trade, transportation, professional services, and health care. While this is promising, especially because it comes on the heels of 200,000 jobs added in October, we still need 7.9 million jobs to get back to the prerecession unemployment rate.

Additionally, millions of potential workers remain sidelined. There are nearly 5.7 million workers who are neither employed nor actively seeking a job. These are people who would be working or looking for work if job opportunities were significantly stronger. If they were counted among the unemployed, the unemployment rate would have been 10.3 percent in November.

As expected, the November employment report showed some reversal of October’s trends in the household survey data. Because of the distortions in the October household survey from the government shutdown, the change from October to November provides little information about the underlying labor market trend. Instead, it’s important to focus on shifts over longer time periods.

For instance, while the data show an increase in labor force participation between October and November, this is due in part to misclassification of furloughed workers in October. The labor force participation rate in November is still lower than it was in September. It is clear that the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.0 percent (since September’s rate of 7.2 percent) is due to a drop in labor force participation and not to a large increase in the number employed. The working age (25–54 years old) employment-to-population ratio in November is 75.9 percent, exactly what it was in September.

Other trends include:

1. The government shutdown is behind us, but the public sector is still down 1.47 million jobs.

2. Long-term unemployment rose, making it all the more important to extend unemployment insurance benefits.

3. High unemployment continues to plague all demographic and occupational groups.

We now examine each of these in turn.

1. The government shutdown is behind us, but the public sector is still down 1.47 million jobs

The talk about the effects of the October government shutdown on public-sector employment is largely a distraction from the larger issue, namely just how many jobs the economy needs to create to return to prerecession levels of public-sector employment. In addition to the economic ramifications of the 800,000 furloughed government employees in October, we still face a sizable jobs shortfall in public-sector employment, as shown in the figure below.

While there have been 728,000 public-sector jobs lost, we need another 744,000 on top of that to keep up with population growth. In total, the public-sector employment deficit since 2009 sits at 1.47 million.

Figure A Figure A (continued)

The public-sector jobs gap

Note: The spikes in public-sector employment in 2000 and 2010 are temporary workers hired to conduct the decennial Census.

Source: Public-sector employment is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics public data series. Population data are from FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data), “Total Population: All Ages including Armed Forces Overseas.”

2. Long-term unemployment rose, making it all the more important to extend unemployment insurance benefits

While the overall unemployment rate declined, long-term unemployment rose. While the share of unemployed workers who have been out of work for more than six months has generally been coming down since its peak of 45.3 percent in March 2011, it increased in November from 36.1 percent to 37.3 percent (increasing as well from the September rate of 36.9 percent, arguably a better benchmark), as shown in the figure below. Today, the long-term unemployment rate is more than double the average rate in 2007.

Figure B

The share of the unemployed who have been jobless for six months or more, 1948–2013

Date Share of the unemployed
Jan-1948 6.4%
Feb-1948 5.2%
Mar-1948 4.6%
Apr-1948 4.4%
May-1948 5.1%
Jun-1948 5.3%
Jul-1948 4.9%
Aug-1948 5.3%
Sep-1948 5.5%
Oct-1948 6.2%
Nov-1948 4.3%
Dec-1948 4.1%
Jan-1949 4.1%
Feb-1949 4.5%
Mar-1949 3.8%
Apr-1949 4.8%
May-1949 5.1%
Jun-1949 6.5%
Jul-1949 7.5%
Aug-1949 8.0%
Sep-1949 8.6%
Oct-1949 7.8%
Nov-1949 10.6%
Dec-1949 10.0%
Jan-1950 10.0%
Feb-1950 10.5%
Mar-1950 11.3%
Apr-1950 13.4%
May-1950 12.3%
Jun-1950 12.3%
Jul-1950 10.8%
Aug-1950 10.5%
Sep-1950 10.6%
Oct-1950 10.9%
Nov-1950 9.9%
Dec-1950 8.1%
Jan-1951 8.0%
Feb-1951 9.4%
Mar-1951 7.2%
Apr-1951 7.2%
May-1951 6.9%
Jun-1951 5.6%
Jul-1951 6.6%
Aug-1951 6.0%
Sep-1951 5.7%
Oct-1951 4.6%
Nov-1951 7.1%
Dec-1951 5.2%
Jan-1952 5.5%
Feb-1952 4.5%
Mar-1952 4.7%
Apr-1952 6.3%
May-1952 4.3%
Jun-1952 3.6%
Jul-1952 3.4%
Aug-1952 3.0%
Sep-1952 3.3%
Oct-1952 4.8%
Nov-1952 3.9%
Dec-1952 6.2%
Jan-1953 4.8%
Feb-1953 4.8%
Mar-1953 5.0%
Apr-1953 3.9%
May-1953 2.9%
Jun-1953 5.8%
Jul-1953 4.4%
Aug-1953 4.0%
Sep-1953 3.8%
Oct-1953 3.4%
Nov-1953 4.5%
Dec-1953 4.0%
Jan-1954 4.9%
Feb-1954 4.6%
Mar-1954 6.5%
Apr-1954 7.6%
May-1954 8.5%
Jun-1954 8.8%
Jul-1954 9.1%
Aug-1954 11.0%
Sep-1954 10.6%
Oct-1954 12.3%
Nov-1954 12.3%
Dec-1954 12.1%
Jan-1955 13.3%
Feb-1955 14.7%
Mar-1955 13.4%
Apr-1955 13.5%
May-1955 13.1%
Jun-1955 12.2%
Jul-1955 11.4%
Aug-1955 9.9%
Sep-1955 9.2%
Oct-1955 8.6%
Nov-1955 9.9%
Dec-1955 10.4%
Jan-1956 9.6%
Feb-1956 10.6%
Mar-1956 8.6%
Apr-1956 7.7%
May-1956 6.9%
Jun-1956 6.2%
Jul-1956 7.1%
Aug-1956 8.7%
Sep-1956 9.1%
Oct-1956 9.5%
Nov-1956 8.4%
Dec-1956 9.2%
Jan-1957 6.5%
Feb-1957 8.6%
Mar-1957 8.6%
Apr-1957 9.0%
May-1957 8.7%
Jun-1957 8.9%
Jul-1957 9.2%
Aug-1957 8.4%
Sep-1957 7.4%
Oct-1957 9.6%
Nov-1957 8.2%
Dec-1957 7.4%
Jan-1958 7.7%
Feb-1958 8.1%
Mar-1958 7.7%
Apr-1958 10.5%
May-1958 11.6%
Jun-1958 14.2%
Jul-1958 16.6%
Aug-1958 19.0%
Sep-1958 20.7%
Oct-1958 20.3%
Nov-1958 19.5%
Dec-1958 19.2%
Jan-1959 19.4%
Feb-1959 18.3%
Mar-1959 18.1%
Apr-1959 18.2%
May-1959 16.7%
Jun-1959 15.9%
Jul-1959 14.0%
Aug-1959 13.4%
Sep-1959 11.8%
Oct-1959 11.4%
Nov-1959 12.1%
Dec-1959 12.6%
Jan-1960 12.9%
Feb-1960 13.0%
Mar-1960 11.7%
Apr-1960 11.9%
May-1960 10.8%
Jun-1960 10.5%
Jul-1960 10.5%
Aug-1960 10.4%
Sep-1960 12.0%
Oct-1960 13.4%
Nov-1960 12.8%
Dec-1960 11.8%
Jan-1961 13.6%
Feb-1961 13.7%
Mar-1961 14.5%
Apr-1961 16.9%
May-1961 17.7%
Jun-1961 18.9%
Jul-1961 19.9%
Aug-1961 19.0%
Sep-1961 18.0%
Oct-1961 17.9%
Nov-1961 17.8%
Dec-1961 17.3%
Jan-1962 16.5%
Feb-1962 17.7%
Mar-1962 16.3%
Apr-1962 16.2%
May-1962 16.5%
Jun-1962 15.2%
Jul-1962 14.9%
Aug-1962 14.7%
Sep-1962 13.1%
Oct-1962 13.3%
Nov-1962 11.1%
Dec-1962 12.8%
Jan-1963 13.3%
Feb-1963 14.0%
Mar-1963 14.8%
Apr-1963 14.7%
May-1963 14.4%
Jun-1963 12.4%
Jul-1963 13.5%
Aug-1963 13.2%
Sep-1963 14.0%
Oct-1963 13.3%
Nov-1963 12.6%
Dec-1963 12.3%
Jan-1964 12.5%
Feb-1964 12.4%
Mar-1964 12.8%
Apr-1964 12.1%
May-1964 13.4%
Jun-1964 13.1%
Jul-1964 14.5%
Aug-1964 13.7%
Sep-1964 12.4%
Oct-1964 11.7%
Nov-1964 12.3%
Dec-1964 11.9%
Jan-1965 11.1%
Feb-1965 11.0%
Mar-1965 10.2%
Apr-1965 10.3%
May-1965 10.2%
Jun-1965 10.7%
Jul-1965 9.8%
Aug-1965 10.0%
Sep-1965 11.1%
Oct-1965 10.8%
Nov-1965 10.1%
Dec-1965 9.9%
Jan-1966 9.9%
Feb-1966 9.5%
Mar-1966 9.2%
Apr-1966 9.0%
May-1966 9.5%
Jun-1966 7.9%
Jul-1966 7.3%
Aug-1966 7.0%
Sep-1966 7.1%
Oct-1966 7.9%
Nov-1966 7.3%
Dec-1966 7.5%
Jan-1967 6.9%
Feb-1967 6.9%
Mar-1967 6.2%
Apr-1967 6.1%
May-1967 5.3%
Jun-1967 5.0%
Jul-1967 5.2%
Aug-1967 6.7%
Sep-1967 5.4%
Oct-1967 5.6%
Nov-1967 5.9%
Dec-1967 6.5%
Jan-1968 6.6%
Feb-1968 5.9%
Mar-1968 6.2%
Apr-1968 5.5%
May-1968 5.0%
Jun-1968 5.4%
Jul-1968 5.5%
Aug-1968 5.5%
Sep-1968 4.9%
Oct-1968 5.0%
Nov-1968 4.8%
Dec-1968 6.0%
Jan-1969 4.9%
Feb-1969 4.3%
Mar-1969 4.4%
Apr-1969 4.8%
May-1969 4.7%
Jun-1969 4.4%
Jul-1969 5.6%
Aug-1969 4.6%
Sep-1969 4.9%
Oct-1969 4.5%
Nov-1969 5.1%
Dec-1969 4.6%
Jan-1970 4.5%
Feb-1970 4.6%
Mar-1970 5.0%
Apr-1970 5.3%
May-1970 5.9%
Jun-1970 5.5%
Jul-1970 5.7%
Aug-1970 5.9%
Sep-1970 6.3%
Oct-1970 5.6%
Nov-1970 6.7%
Dec-1970 7.6%
Jan-1971 8.5%
Feb-1971 9.2%
Mar-1971 9.3%
Apr-1971 9.2%
May-1971 10.2%
Jun-1971 10.9%
Jul-1971 11.3%
Aug-1971 10.6%
Sep-1971 11.0%
Oct-1971 11.7%
Nov-1971 11.2%
Dec-1971 11.4%
Jan-1972 11.7%
Feb-1972 13.4%
Mar-1972 12.8%
Apr-1972 13.6%
May-1972 11.9%
Jun-1972 11.2%
Jul-1972 10.6%
Aug-1972 10.8%
Sep-1972 11.2%
Oct-1972 10.6%
Nov-1972 10.2%
Dec-1972 10.2%
Jan-1973 9.5%
Feb-1973 8.4%
Mar-1973 8.9%
Apr-1973 7.5%
May-1973 8.0%
Jun-1973 7.5%
Jul-1973 6.5%
Aug-1973 7.7%
Sep-1973 6.8%
Oct-1973 8.0%
Nov-1973 8.0%
Dec-1973 7.4%
Jan-1974 7.2%
Feb-1974 7.1%
Mar-1974 7.1%
Apr-1974 7.6%
May-1974 7.5%
Jun-1974 7.4%
Jul-1974 7.7%
Aug-1974 7.7%
Sep-1974 7.2%
Oct-1974 7.2%
Nov-1974 7.1%
Dec-1974 8.1%
Jan-1975 8.3%
Feb-1975 9.7%
Mar-1975 9.7%
Apr-1975 11.9%
May-1975 13.0%
Jun-1975 15.8%
Jul-1975 17.3%
Aug-1975 18.3%
Sep-1975 19.6%
Oct-1975 18.0%
Nov-1975 21.0%
Dec-1975 20.3%
Jan-1976 20.8%
Feb-1976 21.0%
Mar-1976 20.7%
Apr-1976 19.7%
May-1976 17.5%
Jun-1976 18.3%
Jul-1976 16.8%
Aug-1976 16.9%
Sep-1976 16.0%
Oct-1976 16.4%
Nov-1976 16.8%
Dec-1976 17.6%
Jan-1977 16.6%
Feb-1977 16.2%
Mar-1977 16.0%
Apr-1977 16.1%
May-1977 15.6%
Jun-1977 14.4%
Jul-1977 14.3%
Aug-1977 12.9%
Sep-1977 13.7%
Oct-1977 13.4%
Nov-1977 13.2%
Dec-1977 13.4%
Jan-1978 12.6%
Feb-1978 10.6%
Mar-1978 11.2%
Apr-1978 11.1%
May-1978 11.3%
Jun-1978 10.5%
Jul-1978 10.4%
Aug-1978 10.1%
Sep-1978 10.2%
Oct-1978 10.0%
Nov-1978 8.8%
Dec-1978 8.2%
Jan-1979 8.8%
Feb-1979 9.0%
Mar-1979 9.6%
Apr-1979 9.0%
May-1979 8.8%
Jun-1979 8.8%
Jul-1979 7.8%
Aug-1979 8.5%
Sep-1979 8.6%
Oct-1979 8.5%
Nov-1979 9.0%
Dec-1979 8.6%
Jan-1980 8.3%
Feb-1980 7.6%
Mar-1980 9.1%
Apr-1980 9.3%
May-1980 8.9%
Jun-1980 9.6%
Jul-1980 10.7%
Aug-1980 11.3%
Sep-1980 12.0%
Oct-1980 13.1%
Nov-1980 14.2%
Dec-1980 14.8%
Jan-1981 15.7%
Feb-1981 15.5%
Mar-1981 15.2%
Apr-1981 14.4%
May-1981 14.0%
Jun-1981 14.0%
Jul-1981 13.8%
Aug-1981 14.5%
Sep-1981 13.5%
Oct-1981 13.2%
Nov-1981 12.7%
Dec-1981 12.6%
Jan-1982 12.6%
Feb-1982 13.2%
Mar-1982 13.6%
Apr-1982 14.6%
May-1982 15.5%
Jun-1982 17.0%
Jul-1982 16.8%
Aug-1982 17.0%
Sep-1982 17.8%
Oct-1982 19.5%
Nov-1982 19.5%
Dec-1982 21.3%
Jan-1983 22.9%
Feb-1983 23.5%
Mar-1983 24.4%
Apr-1983 24.6%
May-1983 24.9%
Jun-1983 26.0%
Jul-1983 24.5%
Aug-1983 23.6%
Sep-1983 23.5%
Oct-1983 23.1%
Nov-1983 22.7%
Dec-1983 22.0%
Jan-1984 22.4%
Feb-1984 20.8%
Mar-1984 20.4%
Apr-1984 20.3%
May-1984 20.0%
Jun-1984 19.3%
Jul-1984 18.7%
Aug-1984 17.6%
Sep-1984 17.2%
Oct-1984 17.1%
Nov-1984 17.4%
Dec-1984 16.7%
Jan-1985 15.5%
Feb-1985 16.2%
Mar-1985 16.1%
Apr-1985 16.4%
May-1985 14.8%
Jun-1985 15.3%
Jul-1985 15.0%
Aug-1985 14.9%
Sep-1985 14.8%
Oct-1985 14.5%
Nov-1985 16.0%
Dec-1985 14.8%
Jan-1986 13.9%
Feb-1986 14.1%
Mar-1986 14.0%
Apr-1986 13.9%
May-1986 13.8%
Jun-1986 15.0%
Jul-1986 14.7%
Aug-1986 14.7%
Sep-1986 14.8%
Oct-1986 14.8%
Nov-1986 14.3%
Dec-1986 14.6%
Jan-1987 14.3%
Feb-1987 14.2%
Mar-1987 14.3%
Apr-1987 14.4%
May-1987 14.8%
Jun-1987 14.5%
Jul-1987 13.5%
Aug-1987 14.5%
Sep-1987 13.9%
Oct-1987 13.3%
Nov-1987 13.1%
Dec-1987 13.0%
Jan-1988 12.5%
Feb-1988 12.9%
Mar-1988 12.3%
Apr-1988 12.3%
May-1988 12.5%
Jun-1988 12.3%
Jul-1988 11.9%
Aug-1988 11.7%
Sep-1988 12.3%
Oct-1988 11.8%
Nov-1988 10.8%
Dec-1988 11.4%
Jan-1989 11.0%
Feb-1989 10.0%
Mar-1989 10.7%
Apr-1989 11.0%
May-1989 9.9%
Jun-1989 9.3%
Jul-1989 9.5%
Aug-1989 8.7%
Sep-1989 9.1%
Oct-1989 9.8%
Nov-1989 9.8%
Dec-1989 9.6%
Jan-1990 9.7%
Feb-1990 9.4%
Mar-1990 9.6%
Apr-1990 9.5%
May-1990 9.5%
Jun-1990 9.5%
Jul-1990 9.8%
Aug-1990 10.2%
Sep-1990 10.6%
Oct-1990 10.4%
Nov-1990 10.8%
Dec-1990 10.6%
Jan-1991 10.9%
Feb-1991 10.9%
Mar-1991 11.1%
Apr-1991 11.6%
May-1991 11.9%
Jun-1991 12.6%
Jul-1991 12.9%
Aug-1991 13.5%
Sep-1991 13.7%
Oct-1991 13.9%
Nov-1991 15.4%
Dec-1991 16.4%
Jan-1992 17.5%
Feb-1992 18.1%
Mar-1992 18.8%
Apr-1992 18.9%
May-1992 20.6%
Jun-1992 21.3%
Jul-1992 21.5%
Aug-1992 21.0%
Sep-1992 21.5%
Oct-1992 23.1%
Nov-1992 20.7%
Dec-1992 21.4%
Jan-1993 21.2%
Feb-1993 20.7%
Mar-1993 20.0%
Apr-1993 18.2%
May-1993 19.6%
Jun-1993 19.5%
Jul-1993 19.8%
Aug-1993 20.1%
Sep-1993 20.2%
Oct-1993 20.4%
Nov-1993 21.0%
Dec-1993 20.8%
Jan-1994 20.1%
Feb-1994 20.7%
Mar-1994 21.2%
Apr-1994 21.3%
May-1994 21.3%
Jun-1994 19.9%
Jul-1994 19.6%
Aug-1994 19.6%
Sep-1994 20.0%
Oct-1994 20.8%
Nov-1994 19.7%
Dec-1994 18.9%
Jan-1995 18.3%
Feb-1995 17.2%
Mar-1995 18.8%
Apr-1995 18.7%
May-1995 17.5%
Jun-1995 16.8%
Jul-1995 16.7%
Aug-1995 16.3%
Sep-1995 16.9%
Oct-1995 16.5%
Nov-1995 16.7%
Dec-1995 16.4%
Jan-1996 16.2%
Feb-1996 16.5%
Mar-1996 18.2%
Apr-1996 18.3%
May-1996 18.1%
Jun-1996 19.4%
Jul-1996 18.3%
Aug-1996 18.2%
Sep-1996 17.4%
Oct-1996 16.7%
Nov-1996 15.7%
Dec-1996 16.1%
Jan-1997 16.1%
Feb-1997 15.7%
Mar-1997 15.6%
Apr-1997 16.2%
May-1997 15.7%
Jun-1997 15.8%
Jul-1997 16.3%
Aug-1997 16.2%
Sep-1997 16.2%
Oct-1997 16.0%
Nov-1997 14.8%
Dec-1997 15.4%
Jan-1998 15.7%
Feb-1998 15.2%
Mar-1998 14.1%
Apr-1998 14.7%
May-1998 13.8%
Jun-1998 12.6%
Jul-1998 13.3%
Aug-1998 13.2%
Sep-1998 14.5%
Oct-1998 13.6%
Nov-1998 14.4%
Dec-1998 13.5%
Jan-1999 12.0%
Feb-1999 13.2%
Mar-1999 12.2%
Apr-1999 11.4%
May-1999 12.4%
Jun-1999 13.7%
Jul-1999 12.3%
Aug-1999 12.1%
Sep-1999 12.0%
Oct-1999 12.4%
Nov-1999 11.9%
Dec-1999 12.1%
Jan-2000 12.7%
Feb-2000 10.8%
Mar-2000 11.0%
Apr-2000 10.7%
May-2000 11.1%
Jun-2000 11.2%
Jul-2000 12.3%
Aug-2000 12.2%
Sep-2000 11.5%
Oct-2000 11.3%
Nov-2000 10.6%
Dec-2000 11.4%
Jan-2001 11.3%
Feb-2001 11.7%
Mar-2001 11.1%
Apr-2001 11.0%
May-2001 10.0%
Jun-2001 11.2%
Jul-2001 10.8%
Aug-2001 12.2%
Sep-2001 11.5%
Oct-2001 11.8%
Nov-2001 13.9%
Dec-2001 13.6%
Jan-2002 14.6%
Feb-2002 14.9%
Mar-2002 15.9%
Apr-2002 16.8%
May-2002 18.8%
Jun-2002 19.6%
Jul-2002 19.0%
Aug-2002 18.9%
Sep-2002 19.1%
Oct-2002 19.9%
Nov-2002 20.5%
Dec-2002 22.1%
Jan-2003 20.5%
Feb-2003 21.8%
Mar-2003 21.0%
Apr-2003 21.9%
May-2003 21.6%
Jun-2003 22.8%
Jul-2003 22.0%
Aug-2003 22.2%
Sep-2003 22.5%
Oct-2003 22.4%
Nov-2003 23.4%
Dec-2003 23.1%
Jan-2004 22.7%
Feb-2004 22.9%
Mar-2004 23.6%
Apr-2004 22.1%
May-2004 21.9%
Jun-2004 22.5%
Jul-2004 20.7%
Aug-2004 20.3%
Sep-2004 21.4%
Oct-2004 21.5%
Nov-2004 21.4%
Dec-2004 20.8%
Jan-2005 21.2%
Feb-2005 20.4%
Mar-2005 21.8%
Apr-2005 21.0%
May-2005 20.1%
Jun-2005 18.5%
Jul-2005 18.7%
Aug-2005 18.9%
Sep-2005 18.9%
Oct-2005 18.9%
Nov-2005 18.0%
Dec-2005 18.7%
Jan-2006 16.7%
Feb-2006 18.7%
Mar-2006 18.6%
Apr-2006 18.6%
May-2006 18.9%
Jun-2006 16.6%
Jul-2006 18.3%
Aug-2006 18.3%
Sep-2006 18.1%
Oct-2006 15.9%
Nov-2006 16.4%
Dec-2006 16.2%
Jan-2007 16.3%
Feb-2007 18.0%
Mar-2007 18.6%
Apr-2007 17.4%
May-2007 16.5%
Jun-2007 16.4%
Jul-2007 18.3%
Aug-2007 17.5%
Sep-2007 17.5%
Oct-2007 17.7%
Nov-2007 18.9%
Dec-2007 17.4%
Jan-2008 18.5%
Feb-2008 17.8%
Mar-2008 16.9%
Apr-2008 17.7%
May-2008 18.3%
Jun-2008 18.2%
Jul-2008 18.9%
Aug-2008 19.8%
Sep-2008 21.3%
Oct-2008 22.3%
Nov-2008 21.1%
Dec-2008 23.1%
Jan-2009 22.6%
Feb-2009 23.5%
Mar-2009 24.3%
Apr-2009 26.9%
May-2009 27.0%
Jun-2009 29.0%
Jul-2009 33.9%
Aug-2009 34.3%
Sep-2009 36.6%
Oct-2009 36.6%
Nov-2009 39.4%
Dec-2009 40.3%
Jan-2010 41.6%
Feb-2010 41.1%
Mar-2010 43.7%
Apr-2010 45.0%
May-2010 44.9%
Jun-2010 44.8%
Jul-2010 44.6%
Aug-2010 42.7%
Sep-2010 42.2%
Oct-2010 42.6%
Nov-2010 42.4%
Dec-2010 44.6%
Jan-2011 44.0%
Feb-2011 43.7%
Mar-2011 45.3%
Apr-2011 42.6%
May-2011 44.6%
Jun-2011 44.1%
Jul-2011 44.5%
Aug-2011 43.3%
Sep-2011 44.9%
Oct-2011 42.6%
Nov-2011 43.2%
Dec-2011 42.8%
Jan-2012 43.0%
Feb-2012 42.3%
Mar-2012 42.2%
Apr-2012 40.5%
May-2012 42.4%
Jun-2012 41.7%
Jul-2012 40.6%
Aug-2012 40.0%
Sep-2012 40.3%
Oct-2012 40.8%
Nov-2012 40.0%
Dec-2012 39.1%
Jan-2013 38.1%
Feb-2013 40.2%
Mar-2013 39.6%
Apr-2013 37.4%
May-2013 37.3%
Jun-2013 36.7%
Jul-2013 37.0%
Aug-2013 37.9%
Sep-2013 36.9%
Oct-2013 36.1%
Nov-2013 37.3%

Source: Author’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey public data series

Show table Copy data to Excel Embed this chart

Federal unemployment insurance benefit extensions are set to expire at the end of this month. It would be unprecedented for unemployment insurance benefits to expire at a time when the long-term unemployment rate remains so elevated. The long-term unemployed as a share of the labor force sits at 2.6 percent. Historically, unemployment insurance benefits have only been allowed to expire when this rate was 1.3 percent or lower.

Furthermore, it is bad policy. If the extensions are allowed to expire, it will immediately cause more than 1.3 million people to lose their unemployment benefits, and millions more will lose their benefits throughout 2014. Not only will this hurt workers, but unemployment insurance is one of the best economic stimulators. If the unemployment insurance extensions expire, the labor market is estimated to lose 310,000 jobs in 2014.

3. High unemployment continues to plague all demographic and occupational groups

The table below shows the current unemployment rate and the unemployment rate in 2007, along with the ratio of those two values, for various demographic and occupational categories. There is currently substantial variation in unemployment rates across groups, as is always the case. A key message from this table is that the unemployment rate is between 1.3 and 1.8 times as high now as it was six years ago for all groups. Today’s sustained high unemployment relative to 2007 across all age, education, occupation, gender, and racial and ethnic groups underscores that the jobs crisis stems from a broad-based lack of demand. In particular, unemployment is not high because workers lack adequate education or skills; rather, a lack of demand for goods and services makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring.

Table 1 Table 1 (continued)

Unemployment rates of various demographic groups, 2007 and today

2007 November 2013 Ratio
All 4.6 7.0 1.5
Male 4.7 7.3 1.6
Female 4.5 6.7 1.5
White 4.1 6.2 1.5
Black 8.3 12.5 1.5
Hispanic 5.6 8.7 1.6
Age 16–24 10.5 14.1 1.3
Age 25–54 3.7 6.2 1.7
Age 55+ 3.1 4.9 1.6
Workers age 25 and older
Less than high school 7.1 10.8 1.5
High school 4.4 7.3 1.7
Some college 3.6 6.4 1.8
Bachelor’s and advanced degree 2.0 3.4 1.7
Workers under age 25, not enrolled in further schooling
High school degree 12.0 19.2* 1.6
Bachelor’s and advanced degree 5.4 8.3* 1.5
Occupation
Management, professional, and related occupations 2.1 3.7* 1.7
Service occupations 5.9 8.7* 1.5
Sales and office occupations 4.3 7.2* 1.7
Construction and extraction occupations 7.6 12.7* 1.7
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 3.4 5.5* 1.6
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 5.8 9.2* 1.6

* This is a 12-month average (December 2012–November 2013), since this series is not seasonally adjusted.

Source: Author’s analysis of the Current Population Survey public data series

With research assistance from Hilary Wething, Alyssa Davis, and Will Kimball

 

 

 


See related work on Jobs and Unemployment

See more work by Elise Gould