StateStats: Who Are the Unemployed?: December 2011


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Unemployment numbers are on everyone’s minds. In September, 13.99 million Americans were unemployed, down slightly from a year ago, when 14.75 million people were. The current unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, however, hasn’t changed much since April 2010, but is down slightly from September 2010, when it was 9.6 percent.

The number of long-term unemployed—those jobless for more than 27 weeks—is up from a year ago, from 6.15 million to 6.24 million. These people make up 44.6 percent of all the unemployed. And the number of people working part time because their hours were cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job rose to 9.3 million.

Another 2.5 million people are “marginally attached” to the labor force, about the same as in 2010. These people looked for work sometime during the year, but not in the four weeks preceding the survey. Among this group, 1 million are “discouraged,” down by 172,000 from a year earlier. They have stopped looking for work believing no jobs are available for them. The other 1.5 million had not searched for work for reasons such as school or family responsibilities.

Government employment continued to fall and drag down the economic recovery. In just the last year, local governments lost 210,000 jobs, state governments 49,000 and the federal government 30,000. More than a half million public sector jobs have been lost since September 2008.