This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the unemployment report for the month of March. Another 663,000 jobs were lost and U3 unemployment hit 8.5%. The broadest measure of unemployment, U6, which includes those who have given up looking for work and those who have settled on part-time jobs while still seeking full time employment, hit 16.2% (not seasonally adjusted). (See http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm)
Here’s some additional data that highlights how truly bad the job market is. The number of unemployed has now risen eleven consecutive months. This is short of the record of 17 consecutive months from August, 1981 through December, 1982. However, the total number of unemployed for the current string of months blows away that old record, coming in at 5.49 million vs. the ’81-’82 record of 4.19 million. In other words, the ranks of the unemployed has exploded at a record pace. Also, it should be noted that the number of unemployed has grown in 18 of the last 22 months.
In terms of the number of jobs lost, March marks the 15th consecutive month of job losses, only two months shy of the record of 17 (since record-keeping began in 1939) set in the ’81-’82 recession. But the current string of job losses, at 5.13 million, blows away the ’81-’82 recession string of 2.84 million. The number of jobs lost in March, 663,000, is the worst since September of 1945, when the U.S. was quickly winding down its war effort. (It’d be tough to beat that record. That month, 1,966,000 jobs were lost at a time when the U.S. population and work force were half of today’s level.) (See http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet for more info.)
What’s worse is that no one expects this string of monthly job losses to end any time soon. Another Great Depression, when unemployment hit 25% in 1933? Probably not. But we’re careening in that direction at a record pace.