Official Unemployment Rate Hits 8.5%, 661,000 Jobs Lost In March


The American economy shed another 663,000 jobs in March, the government reported Friday, bringing the toll of job losses during the recession to 5.1 million. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national unemployment rate climbed to 8.5 percent from 8.1 percent in February, its highest levels in a quarter-century, as employers raced to cut their payroll costs. It was the 15th consecutive month of job losses.

. . . “There is no letup,” said James O’Sullivan, senior United States economist at UBS. “The trend has been truly dismal.” . . . In all, nearly 16 percent of the people in the United States are now looking for a job, working part-time because they cannot find full-time work, or are out of work and not actively looking, the government said.

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    january was revised to over 700k (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:50:53 AM EST
    you will see the same thing in 8 weeks with this number.  INcluding disenfranchised and underemployed we are near 16%.

    No worries though. I read on cnbc today that this is it, by June the number will be back down to 200k/month.

    I would love to see the reasoning as to how that will happen.

    That's when the demand (none / 0) (#6)
    by Fabian on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 09:07:05 AM EST
    for agricultural workers goes up.

    You don't think those veg pick themselves, do you?


    Official U3 may be at 8.5 percent... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Romberry on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 10:51:24 AM EST
    ...but the real number is almost surely higher.

    Official U-6 is already well above 15 percent. The real number is likely around 4 points higher. Ditto for actual U-3, which is the rate most widely reported, likely being around 4 points higher...which would mean U-3 is above 12 percent.

    The ShadowStats estimate of unemployment (based on pre-Clinton methods of calculation) can be found here.

    Some background on their numbers is here.

    And of course there is the Crash Course segment (which is a must read/must see) on Fuzzy Numbers...'cause the numbers they feed us proles are nothing if not fuzzy. (Read "massaged to the point that they are divorced from reality.")

    Also from the BLS:

    Jannuary was revised from -655,000 to -741,000.


    In March, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.1 hour to 33.2 hours, seasonally adjusted--the lowest level on record for the series, which began in 1964.

    Good times!

    duration (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:42:53 AM EST
    average time out of work in 08 was 19.3 weeks if memory serves me correct.  What do you guess it is now?  26?  52?  

    Please be sure to remember to send your gainfully employed and insured representatives a thank you letter for all of their foresight and financial commitment to staving off this crisis.  

    I understand we have cede some level of UE as consumption has been too high for too long.  But 300 bn to "save or create" 3.5mm jobs is woefully inadequate in light of the unanticipated rapid deterioration of the job market, if you consider the stress tests for the banks indicative of how the administration assumed job loss would accelerate.

    Anyone still disagree that job loss is now a crisis or do you believe that in June it will stabilize?


    I don't see it stabilizing,,, (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Romberry on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:52:19 AM EST
    ...any time soon. June is soon. I expect that the official double digit rates for the "massaged beyond all recognition by the Clinton admin" U3 unemployment numbers, the kind of rates that we were all told would not come to pass, will in fact be realized.

    Truthfully, not only do I not see any stabilization, other than maybe a pause in the late spring, I see acceleration. The steps taken by Oh! Bama! are not going to be the least bit effective on the employment front, and if they push GM (250k employees) and Chrysler (58k employees) into bankruptcy, the ripple effects through their tiers of suppliers will multiply the carnage five to seven fold.

    (Check the link on Fuzzy Numbers. Good stuff!)


    Wasn't the stimulus supposed to help with this? (none / 0) (#19)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:12:41 PM EST
    When might the stimulus stem the tide of unemployment?  

    Oh,,,man. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Romberry on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 12:56:20 AM EST
    The stimulus? Well, most of it doesn't get spent until next year, and the size of the package is way too small, and a third of it goes to nearly useless (in terms of shoring up employment or stimulating actual spending) tax cuts. So...well...let's just say I'm not expecting much stimulation unless I go on a date. (Even then you I hafta ask.)

    deep thought (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:46:15 AM EST
    "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" John McCain

    "It turns out that John McCain, who was widely mocked for saying that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," was actually right. We're in a financial crisis, not an economic crisis. We're not entering a second Great Depression.

    How do we know? Well, the economy outside the financial sector is healthier than it seems."

    "So, if you are not employed by the financial industry (94 percent of you are not), don't worry. The current unemployment rate of 6.1 percent is not alarming, and we should reconsider whether it is worth it to spend $700 billion to bring it down to 5.9 percent. "  Published: October 9, 2008 NYT

    Casey B. Mulligan is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago.

    Ah yes...the Chicago School. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Romberry on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:53:56 AM EST
    The Chicago boys have a track record. It ain't pretty.

    Another perspective (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Steve M on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 12:49:05 PM EST
    from here:

    The BLS diffusion index is a measure of how widespread changes in employment are... So it is possible for the diffusion index to increase (like manufacturing increased from 11.4 to 15.7) not because industries are hiring, but because fewer industries are losing jobs.

    Think of this as a measure of how widespread the job losses are across industries. The further from 50 (above or below), the more widespread the job losses or gains reported by the BLS.

    Before September, the all industries employment diffusion index was close to 40, suggesting that job losses were limited to a few industries. However starting in September the diffusion index plummeted. In December, the index hit 20.5, suggesting job losses were very widespread. The index has only recovered slightly since then (22 in March).

    The manufacturing diffusion index has fallen even further, from 40 in May 2008 to just 6 in January 2009. The manufacturing index recovered slightly to 15.7 in March.

    thanks stevem (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 03:06:31 PM EST
    he was sort of right as to containment, but there was a shift occuring.  To say however, "you have nothing to worry about" well there were plenty of non economists on the contraire....

    stevem, thanks for that site also (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 03:10:10 PM EST
    had never seen it before, and I think i am hooked...

    Great site (none / 0) (#18)
    by Steve M on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:32:47 PM EST
    Very fact-based and savvy.

    Oy (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 12:17:53 PM EST
    16% Wow (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:19:26 AM EST
    Well, I wonder when the bottom is going to hit. I've read everything from the end of this year to the end of next year.

    And anybody who thinks that things are going to get better soon needs their head examined.

    That rate looks good to those of us (none / 0) (#2)
    by BernieO on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:22:30 AM EST
    in the Carolinas. Both states are over 10%.

    And reasonable economists like Stiglitz, Stephen Johnson and Krugman are not very optimistic about the near future. (Salon has several good articles about this and an interview with Stiglitz.)

    I like unemployment rats (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:29:23 AM EST
    They taste kind of like chicken when you can't afford it.  

    Fixed, thanks (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:33:30 AM EST