Unemployment Hits A 26-Year High Of 10.2%

The pace of job losses has slowed significantly, but the economy still divested itself of 190,000 jobs in October, sending the national unemployment rate to 10.2%, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It should be noted that the unemployment rate only tracks people actively seeking work.

If you’re interested in statistics the Bureau has another one that you might like. The employment-to-population ratio calculates the proportion of the country’s working-age population that is employed. Currently, our employment-to-population ratio is at 58.5%. Wikipedia tells us that a “high” ratio would be around 70%.

There’s also something called the “underemployment” rate, which tracks part-time workers and those who have simply given up. This rate is currently at 17.5%, says the NYT.

As far as industries go, if you’re in construction and manufacturing, you’re in trouble. Manufacturing in particular has lost 2.1 million jobs in just the last 2 years.

Heath care, however, is doing fine. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that since the recession began, heath care has added 597,000 jobs.

The news is most grim if you’re a teenager: 27.6% of teenagers who are looking for work are unable to find it.

Here’s a scary/depressing graph:

Employment Situation Summary [Bureau of Labor Statistics]
U.S. Unemployment Rate Hits 10.2%, Highest in 26 Years [NYT]
(Photo:Jay Adan)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ShruggingGalt says:

    But I thought the economy grew?

  2. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    Unless you’re in southeast Michigan; then it’s about twice that.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @Mary Marsala with Fries: I dunno, its really weird. My boyfriend (from Florida) just got a job up there and moved. I know, right?
      So, SOME people in Michigan are hiring.

      Plus, I was scouting out opportunities of employment for me, and though I most likely will never work in my industry (web design) again up there, I can get a job as a CSR. They called me even though my resume said I’m in FLORIDA the day after I submitted it. Obviously they’re looking to hire.

      • proskills says:

        @Oranges w/ Cheese wants it to be winter already: Computer related jobs are almost always available.

        • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

          @proskills: As a well qualified computer professional trying to hawk his wares during nearly six months of total unemployment last year, for me, not so much.

        • Quatre707 says:

          @proskills: Not entry level positions if you don’t have experience, not in South-East Michigan anyway. Nearly all open job positions that would be considered entry-level are all requiring 5+ years experience performing the same task… Guess people don’t want 2,000 applicants a day. The required skills rarely change for open positions, only the required experience continues to increase.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:
    • coraspartan says:

      @Mary Marsala with Fries: Yep. I lost my job at the end of September and my hopes are extremely low for finding anything soon.

      Add to that, my teenage son is looking for a job in Southeast Michigan too…he has applied at tons of places and not gotten a single call. All of these businesses that are hiring for the holidays are hiring adults with years of work experience…not a 16 year old kid who has never had a job.

  3. nnj says:

    The only thing that suprises me is the unemployment number is not twice that…although in reality it probably is.

    I can only imagine we will hear the next consecutive economic bottom call in the news soon.

  4. Jeangenie says:

    My brother just called me and said what the world needs now is “Welcome to the Jungle”. He played it, it was right.

  5. tailstoo says:

    Might be bad for workers, but what great profits all of these companies are showing, causing their stock price to take off!

    It’s like winning at Weight Watchers by removing your appendages.

    • Elcheecho says:

      @tailstoo: or we need new industries. sticking the unemployed or underemployed where they are inefficient is communism.

      @j-o-h-n: it’s only a prisoner’s dilemma if the players could reach a better result by collaborating reliably. if each company is a prisoner, and their options are “fire” and “don’t fire,” i don’t really see a better outcome by everyone coordinating their policies for the greater good–that would also be communism.

  6. Nighthawke says:

    Now can we panic? The companies maybe crowing that the recession is over, but they have yet to show they are making the effort to recover some of the workforce they laid off. This last set of quarterly profit reports has the blood of several million unemployed slathered all over it.

  7. Silversmok3 says:

    Here’s my statistics.

    My family of three is myself, mom, and dad.
    I’m a 22 year old working part time retail job, one that will likely drop me and half its staff in January.

    Mom got laid off last week. Dad lost his 20 year position in 2008, and were it not for his entepreneurial skills wed be, well, in some bother.
    That makes for a ‘classic’ employed to unemployed percentage of about 33% for my household.

  8. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Any projections from unbiased economists what the unemployment rate would be without the stimulus?

  9. sincbt3 says:

    I’m one of those unemployed people, and it has gotten me pretty depressed at times, especially given my education and training. One way I have found to deal with it and improve my chances at getting a job was reading newspaper and magazine job application advice and then trying different tactics they suggest. Some don’t work, some do, and it’s pretty easy to spot ones that will definitely improve your chances. One really helpful site I found is a blog by an underemployed ecologist/biologist. She’s on Blogspot and goes by the handle of JoblessGenevieve. The posts are typically helpful or at least thought inducing, and I know she’s always looking for contributions from people who’ve been there and done that in terms of being unemployed or working towards their dream job. Check her out: joblessgenevieve.blogspot. c o m

  10. halcyondays says:

    Hoax and chains.

  11. ChimmyChai says:

    My husband and I are members of the “unemployed who aren’t counted”. We moved states in order to care for my mother and to do that we had to quit our jobs. We are looking for work in our new state (we both have bachelor’s degrees — fat lot they are doing us) but haven’t been successful so far. We aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits so no one is counting us in that 10.2%.

    It really does shock me that the “counted” numbers are 1 out of every 10 people is unemployed. It’s a staggering number and I can’t imagine how that situation is going to be corrected in the next five years. And with retirement benefits dropping and healthcare costs rising, more people who would have retired are going to be staying in their jobs which will leave even fewer job openings.

  12. Brontide says:

    The official unemployment rate masks a lot of problems itself. Out of 100 people 10 are “unemployed” and another 7 are “discouraged or marginally attached workers”. Those are the people that would prefer to be working or want to work more, but can’t for economic reasons.

    17.5% of the population wants to work more, but can’t; that’s more than 1 out of ever 6 people in this country.


  13. Jevia says:

    At the same time, employers are using the recession to freeze the salaries of the people they do employ. Can’t really expect me to go out and “consume” when I’m not getting paid more, but required expenses like utilities, food, gas, continue to go up in price.

    • Quatre707 says:

      @Jevia: It’s worse than that. Many large companies are lower the starting pay of their most common job positions drastically.
      I know General Motors is a bad example, but 4 years ago the starting salary of an assembly line worker was $18 to $24 an hour, now it’s $14, and 99% of those position are only available to family and friends of employees who give potential hires a n employee recommendation application, a.k.a a “golden ticket”

      The 120 million dollar a year in revenue company I work for(which has grown by 20% in the last two years) has frozen the salary of everyone for an undetermined amount of time. They still do yearly reviews, but nobody gets a salary increase, and no new hires are getting benefits.

  14. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    Thank you Bush and Cheney!

  15. H3ion says:

    Legal profession dropped 5,800 jobs in October. Say you just spent $100,000 or more on law school and passed the bar. Now all you have to do is find a job while there are thousands of experienced lawyers in the same pool. It’s not pleasant.

    As far as the stimulus package goes, without it we might be looking at an unemployment rate in the high teens so comparing Obama to Hoover, I’ll take Obama any day of the week.

  16. Mr.Duke says:

    Time to become self-employed.

    not giving you a fish but teaching you
    how to fish

  17. scarlin says:

    Funny that you should mention that… I lost my job today.

  18. u1itn0w2day says:

    It just shows how fragile and propped up the old economy was . So much has been outsourced during the last 26 years it could another 26 years to get the economy inflated to the tech or housing bubble levels .

    I think these numbers will change a litte once unemployment runs out for many . I know people that have flat out given up and or refuse to even look at jobs below their unemployment checks for which I don’t blame them . BUT at the sametime they’re holding out hoping to walk into a high 5 to low 6 figure salaried job without additional school , certificates and/or degrees . They have no intention of starting over or lower .

    Twenty Six years ago was the Reagan Administration . He many respects he wasn’t a bad president but he opened the door to outsource and break the unions during the air traffic controllers strike .

    Twenty Six years the auto companies were floundering around figuring out what to do about the Japanese imports . Or just waiting & hoping those imports were just a fad . Pffftttt… My how some things never change .

    • imsnowbear says:


      Well, the air traffic controllers strike was illegal, after all. [tinyurl.com]

      Perhaps if the Big Three auto companies had taken a similar hard line with their unions, their employee costs wouldn’t have gotten so out of control that they couldn’t compete with imports. This isn’t union bashing. It was management’s fault. They rolled over for the unions. Can’t blame the unions for wanting better wages and conditions. It was management that was too shortsighted to recognize the import threat and negotiate contracts that kept them competitive.

  19. Mecharine says:

    Its a “jobless” recovery. Unfortunately, the jobs lost in the recession aren’t ever going to come back. No matter how hard people try. This is the impetus for companies to move all production to China, and those jobs won’t come back for another generation.

  20. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    Um the first stormtrooper in the photo – total costume fail. haha Darth Vader should come slap her / it.