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There are plenty of articles and commentary that digest and spin the unemployment picture. Here is the data.


The unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 percent in September, and total nonfarm
payroll employment rose by 114,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Employment increased in health care and in transportation and warehousing
but changed little in most other major industries.

Household Survey Data [phone calls to actual households]

The unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 7.8 percent in September.
For the first 8 months of the year, the rate held within a narrow range of 8.1
and 8.3 percent. The number of unemployed persons, at 12.1 million, decreased by
456,000 in September...

Total employment rose by 873,000 in September, following 3 months of little
change. The employment-population ratio increased by 0.4 percentage point to
58.7 percent, after edging down in the prior 2 months. The overall trend in
the employment-population ratio for this year has been flat....

Establishment Survey Data [data from employers, a very large data set]

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 114,000 in September. In 2012,
employment growth has averaged 146,000 per month, compared with an average
monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011....

Current Employment Statistics - Net Birth/Death Model

In 2012, the CES sample includes about 141,000 businesses and government agencies drawn from a sampling frame of Unemployment Insurance tax accounts which cover approximately 486,000 individual worksites. The active CES sample includes approximately one-third of all nonfarm payroll workers. The sample-based estimates are adjusted each month by a statistical model designed to reduce a primary source of non-sampling error which is the inability of the sample to capture, on a timely basis, employment growth generated by new business formations. ...

2012 nonfarm Birth/Death Adjustment, not seasonally adjusted (in thousands)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
-367 91 90 206 204 124 52 87 -9

2012 Total nonfarm over-the-month change, not seasonally adjusted (in thousands)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
-2668 913 871 864 778 334 -1204 370(p) 574(p)
(p) - preliminary

All Employees: Total nonfarm is growing steadily, but still below pre-crisis peak.

Civilian Unemployment Rate is still dropping, but still above the peaks of the 1990 and 2001 recessions.

Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons (U6RATE) is dropping but still high at 14.7%.

Average (Mean) Duration of Unemployment (UEMPMEAN) has hardly budged from 40 weeks. This includes the long-term unemployed from the beginning of the jobs recession in 2007.

The number of long-term unemployed is falling but still the highest by far since the end of World War 2.

Median Duration of Unemployment is dropping dramatically. It is still the highest since 1965 by far at 18.5 weeks.

4-Week Moving Average of Initial Unemployment Claims has dropped dramatically. It shows a slowly growing economy.

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate is the lowest since 1980. For youngsters, that is when women began to enter the labor force in large numbers.

By education:
Unemployment Rate - Less than a High School Diploma, 25 years and over is falling at 11.3%.

Unemployment Rate - High School Graduates, No College, 25 years and over is in a falling trend at 8.7%.

Unemployment Rate - Bachelor's degree and higher, 25 years and over is falling at 4.1%. This is the highest since 1990.

Overall, the unemployment situation is improving but still very bad.

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