New Unemployment Problem

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released job numbers for December 2009, and it wasn’t very pretty. Unemployment remains at 10%—but the economy also lost 85,000 jobs. Typically, a loss of that much would have bumped the unemployment rate up a few percentage points, but while employers shed full-time workers at the end of 2009, more people also stopped looking for work. The figured 10% says that one in ten people that are looking for work can’t find a job. There are others that could be employed but either don’t want a job, don’t need to work, or have given up looking for work. So the real unemployment number is actually worse than 10%.

The BLS numbers also show that “underemployment” (part-time workers who want full-time jobs) rose from 17.2% to 17.3% from November to December. That is still below the 17.4% underemployment from October 2009—but overall it means that more than one in six workers does not have the kind of job they need or want.

Not the best news to kick off 2010.