Spotlight Exclusives

Beyond the Official Numbers: Broader Jobs Report Shows More Troubling Signs

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OOTS, which chronicles the ups and downs in the battle against poverty, had to take note of the grim news from last month۪s unemployment statistics.

The official October jobless rate of 10.2 percent, which was released by the Department of Labor last week, still hasn۪t reached the worst level of the last big recession during the early 1980s, when it peaked at 10.8 percent.

Unfortunately, as reported in the New York Times, a broader measure finds that 17.5 percent of workers nearly one out of six are unemployed or underemployed. Although this percentage was far higher during the Great Depression, it۪s likely the highest we۪ve seen since.

Included in the broader measure are the 10.2 percent of workers who are officially unemployed, “discouraged” workers who have given up trying to find work, and those with part-time jobs who want full-time work but can۪t find it or had full time work but have seen their hours cut.

While the share of officially unemployed and discouraged workers is lower than in the 1980s, the 5.9 percent or 9.3 million workers forced into part-time jobs is much higher. That spells bad news for many lower-income Americans trying to reach the middle class.

Also troubling is that current high unemployment rates are caused more by a general freeze in hiring than by layoffs. That means that Americans who were already out of work at the beginning of the recession are finding it harder and harder to get work.

There۪s certainly a lot to be concerned about for all Americans. Almost 16 million people are currently unemployed, with over seven million jobs lost from the economy since late 2007. But these numbers show that things may be especially bad for those most in need.

Posted by Mike


Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn۪t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and its impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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