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September Unemployment Metrics


We are arguably in the midst of an economic downturn the likes of which our country has not seen in decades.  This past month, the economy posted some horrific unemployment numbers and recorded some new highs and lows.  The House Republican Conference (HRC), chaired by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), has recently released its latest unemployment fact sheet which reveals the numbers behind some of these troubling trends.

The most widely quoted statistic is that unemployment rose from 9.7% in August to 9.8% in September.  It is also commonly reported that 263,000 net jobs were lost in the month.  However, the number of people who were actually laid off in September is 1.92 million which is the highest single-month total ever.  That brought the overall number of unemployed persons looking for work to 15.14 million, another new record.  Since the stimulus was passed in February, almost 2.9 million net jobs have been lost after taking into accounts all jobs created in that timeframe.

The numbers publicized by the HRC also reveal the discouraged state of the American public, a result of the depressed economy.  Currently, there are 1.1 million new members of the workforce seeking jobs.  There are 9.2 million people working part-time because full-time employment has become unavailable.  To make matters worse, 5.44 million people have been unemployed and struggling to find work for more than 27 weeks, a new high.  Job seekers are unemployed for an average of 26.2 weeks after losing their jobs, the longest average since the statistics was first recorded in 1948.  And for the first time, state unemployment benefits do not cover the average time someone is unemployed. As a result, 2.2 million people who want to work have stopped looking because of the disheartening state of the economy.

Below is a list of other HRC numbers worth noting:

25.9%: Unemployment rate among job seekers between the ages of 16 and 19—the highest level since the statistic was first measured in 1948. 

15.4%: Unemployment rate among African Americans—the highest level since 1985. 

12.7%: Unemployment rate among Hispanics and Latinos. 

17%: Rate of underemployment, accounting for the unemployed and those who are unable to find adequate work. 

15%: Unemployment rate among job seekers without a high school degree. 

58.8%:  Rate of the U.S. population who currently has a job—the lowest level since 1985.