Thursday, November 4, 2010

Record number of jobless at year-plus

Here's a startling statistic: Nearly a third of the people listed as unemployed in the second quarter had been jobless for a year or longer. That was 30.9 percent of the 14.6 million then listed as unemployed, or about 4.5 million people.

The numbers are in an October report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that says the number of long-term unemployed had "increased sharply" since the December 2007 start of the Great Recession. (The recession was declared officially over in June 2009.)

In fact, the report says, the share of the labor force jobless for a year or longer reached a record high in the quarter.

It's common that when the Labor Department puts out its monthly report on employment, the number of so-called long-term unemployed, or those jobless for more than six months, is broken out. But the report doesn't usually go more granular, to detail specific numbers in the two long-term categories (27-51 weeks, 52+ weeks).

That is in the new BLS report. What's more, it also shows how significant the run-up in the year-plus ranks of the unemployed has been: from 9.5 percent of the jobless population in Q2 2007 to nearly 31 percent in the same quarter this year.

A new monthly report on employment is due tomorrow morning. Bloomberg News is predicting the unemployment rate for October will remain at 9.6 percent, as it has been for the previous two months. More of the same isn't encouraging, and was cited yesterday by the Federal Reserve as one reason it had decided to embark on purchasing $600 billion in long-term Treasury bonds to try to jump-start the economy.

FRIDAY UPDATE: The government did indeed report an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent for October, and put the number of long-term unemployed (total at 27 weeks or more) at 6.2 million for the month.

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