Unemployment Spikes

5.7% unemployment? That’s ugly. The headline payrolls number of -51,000 jobs might be less bad than the market expected, especially since the fall in June was smaller than originally reported as well. But only the financial markets care about the monthly change in non-farm payrolls. Real people care about the unemployment rate, and that’s the highest it’s been since March 2004.

This isn’t some partisan commentator, it’s the official BLS press release:

Both the number of unemployed persons (8.8 million) and the unemployment rate

(5.7 percent) rose in July. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed

persons has increased by 1.6 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 1.0

percentage point.

Remember too that the official unemployment rate understates the severity of the downturn, as it doesn’t count formerly full-time employees now working part-time. The number of people now who are either unemployed or underemployed is surely larger than it has been for many, many years.

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