May Marks 36th Consecutive Month of Unemployment Above 10%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that a measly 69,000 jobs were added in May, while the unemployment rate rose by 0.1% to 8.2%.  The report was a huge disappointment and sent stock markets reeling. 

Beyond those two headline figures, there was actually some good news in the report.  While the establishment survey yielded only 69,000 new jobs, the household survey reported that the employment level rose by 422,000 – the biggest increase since April of 2010.  And, while the unemployment rate rose slightly, it was only because 642,000 workers re-entered the work force. 

Still, the report was just another data point confirming that the economy is mired in a “new normal” of high unemployment.  And, it marked a sad milestone.  If unemployment is calculated by holding the labor force at a fixed percentage of the population – a much more accurate measure that removes all the variation caused by claims that workers simply drop out of the labor force in bad times – then the unemployment rate for May came in at 10.7%, the 36th consecutive month that that figure topped 10%.  (In November, 2007, it was 4.7%.)  Here’s the calculation:  Unemployment Calculation

President Obama can’t be held responsible for the first time it topped 10% in June, 2009.  After all, he’d only been president for five months and was struggling to cope with the economic collapse he inherited.  But he is responsible for the fact that it remains well above 10% exactly three years later, with little hope of it falling below 10% any time soon.  He’s broken every campaign promise made to correct our trade situation and bring manufacturing jobs back home.  He’s been soft on trade policy.  Continued high unemployment is the inescapable, predicted result.  In November, he’ll pay the price. 

* * * * *

Those 69,000 jobs reported in the establishment survey break down as follows:

  • Health care:  + 33,000
  • Transportation & warehousing:  + 36,000
  • Wholesale trade:  + 16,000
  • Manufacturing:  + 12,000
  • Professional & business services:  unchanged
  • Mining & logging:  unchanged
  • retail trade:  unchanged
  • information:  unchanged
  • financial activities:  unchanged
  • leisure & hospitality:  unchanged
  • government:  unchanged
  • Construction:  -28,000

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