Jobless in January

Last Friday’s unemployment report for Jan. 2009 is bad old news by now — 598,000 jobs lost in January (worst one-month job loss since 1974); 3.6 million lost since the recession began in Dec. 2007, half of that in the last three months; an unemployment rate of 7.6% (worst since 1992).  But as with most unemployment reports, the news beneath the surface is even worse.

For starters, the reported data, like most economic data, are seasonally adjusted, so they take into account the fact that economic activity is heavier in some months (like December) than others (like January).  Seasonal adjustments are well and good as regards making valid comparisons across time, but it’s hard to seasonally adjust people.  The not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for January was an eye-popping 8.5%.

And, once again, the standard unemployment rate is only for people actively looking for a job and does not count discouraged job-seekers, involuntary part-time workers, etc.   The BLS adds those into the “U-6 unemployment rate,” which is the one that shows the full amount of misery, and for January it was 13.9% (seasonally adjusted) or 15.4% (not seasonally adjusted).

Hard times.

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One Response to “Jobless in January”

  1. Real GDP kind of did fall 5% last quarter « Blogging Through the Wreckage Says:

    […] as consensus forecasts had it.  This story’s a couple weeks old (been busy), but just as the latest unemployment numbers are much worse than they look, the difference between the forecast annualized drop of 5% and the actual drop of 3.8% (still the […]

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