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U.S. 248,000 Jobs September; Unemployment 5.9%--AOL NEWS ANALYSIS OF 'BUMMER' JOB MKT AND UNEMPLOYMENT

From David M. Adam, Jr.

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Here’s a select set of indicators showing the health of the job market now compared with December 2007, which was arguably the last month of “normal” economic conditions, since that’s when the last recession started:


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

These numbers show a lot of problems. The unemployment rate gets most of the attention, and it’s been coming down at a steady pace, dropping from 6.7% to 5.9% so far this year. But there are still more than 16 million Americans who are unemployed or working less than they want because they can’t find a good full-time job. That’s 3.2 million more than in 2007.

Many others have dropped out of the labor force, which shows up in the numbers as a 3.3 percentage point drop in the participation rate since 2007. That might not seem like a big number, but it represents something like 7 million people who would be working or looking for work if they hadn’t dropped out. Combined with all the unemployed and underemployed, that’s a lot of people who are contributing less to the economy than they would have in a 2007 scenario. Some draw government subsidies funded by taxpayers, with no other income.

The other big bummer is hourly wages, which have barely risen since 2007 when factoring in inflation. And that’s just for people with jobs. If you included people who used to have jobs but no longer do, the earnings number would be negative, which is why median household income is still far below where it was in 2007. That means people with jobs are barely staying even with inflation, on average, while the ranks of the economically distressed have swollen significantly.

David M. Adam, Jr.



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