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Friday, June 3, 2011

Alternate Unemployment Rate Declines to 17.9% - May 2011

Latest alternate unemployment rate for September: 18.4% CLICK HERE!


 Alternate Unemployment Rate is 17.91% - May 2011


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August update:
 What was the Unemployment Rate When Obama Took Office? (Update for August) 
How Many Jobs Has Obama Created or Lost? (August update).
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The seasonally-adjusted alternate unemployment rate is 17.9% for May 2011.  This is two-tenths (.2%) of a percent lower than it was in April 2011.   
In seasonally-adjusted numbers, 17.9% of the American labor force were either "officially" unemployed, working part-time but wanting full-time work, or "wanted work" but hadn't looked for work in the past four weeks for a reason such as being discouraged or convinced there was no work for them.  (I do not count people as unemployed unless they say that they "want work" according to the BLS Current Population Survey.  How can someone consider themselves unemployed in terms of wanting or needing work if they don't say they want to work?)      

See below for the complete explanation.

More here:  

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Other Articles on Unemployment:






 How Many Jobs were Created in April 2011? 

Other articles you may wish to check out:


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Here's how the numbers for the alternate unemployment rate break down:
  • 13,914,000 officially unemployed in May 2011 (vs. 13,747,000 in April)
  • 8,548,000 working part-time but wanting full-time work (vs. 8,600,000 in April)
  • 6,227,000 who "want work" but haven't actively looked in the past 4 weeks (vs. 6,539,000 in April).
That adds up to 28,689,000 who are the "alternate" number of unemployed (vs. 28,886,000 in April) .


200,000 Fewer People Unemployed in May vs. April
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So there we have it; 200,000 fewer people who are unemployed in May vs. April.



Here's an analysis of why we have fewer unemployed people but a higher "official" unemployment rate:


  1. It appears that many of the people who said they "wanted work" last month have now actively entered or re-entered the job market, as the number of actively looking unemployed people went up by about 160,000.
  2. The total number of employed people rose by 100,000.    
  3. The increase in these two buckets of 260,000 just about cancels out the decrease of 300,000 of those who "want a job" but weren't actively looking.   
  4. There are fewer people working part-time but wanting full-time work, so we can assume that a large chunk of part-timers did "graduate" to full-time work.
  5. As a result, we have 100,000 more people working but not enough new workers to counter the number of people who actually jumped in and started to actively look for work.  As people aren't officially counted as unemployed unless they are actively looking for work, the official unemployment rate went up; whereas our unofficial unemployment rate went down as people did actually get jobs.




The total "alternate" work force now numbers 159,920,000 (vs. 159,960,000 in April) and includes those who are employed, those who are officially unemployed, and those who"want work".

The "alternate" work force of 159 million plus breaks down as follows:

  • 139,779,000 employed in May 2011 (vs. 139,674,000 in April - an increase of 100,000).
  • 13,914,000 officially unemployed (vs. 13,747,000 in April - an increase of 160,000).
  • 6,227,000 who "want work" (vs. 6,539,000 in April - a decrease of 300,000+).


28,689,000 out of 159,920,000 gives us the alternate unemployment rate of 17.9%.

As usual, we need to remember that this number doesn't include people working temporary jobs, people who are working micro-businesses that may not make much money, nor does it include people who have returned to work for wages much less than what they received in their previous jobs.

The alternate unemployment rate not seasonally adjusted is 17.8%.

In non-adjusted "real" numbers, we have 13,421,000 unemployed (vs. 13,237,000 in April), 6,821, 000 who "want work" (vs. 6,482,000 in April), and 8,270,000 who are working part-time but want full-time work (vs. 8,425,000 in April).  That's a total of 28,512,000 unemployed out of an "alternate" work force of 160,270,000 for a ratio of 17.8%.  (In April, these numbers were 28,144,000 unemployed out of an "alternate" work force of 159,380,000 for a ratio of 17.7%.)  

We have more people who are employed in May (140,028,000 vs. 139,661,000 in April), but many more who are actively looking, and many more who have  decided they "want work".   

The alternate unemployment rate for May continues to decrease as more find work.  But we also have more people who were sitting on the sidelines who have now decided to actively seek work.  So the official unemployment rate has gone up.


The trends continue to be positive, but still very, very sluggish.

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