NPR logo Unemployment Hits 9.7 Percent, Underemployment At 16.8 Percent


Unemployment Hits 9.7 Percent, Underemployment At 16.8 Percent

Unemployment Rate

Percent of U.S. workers age 16 and older

Unemployment rose to 9.7 percent in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. That's up 0.3 percent over the July rate of 9.4 percent. Analysts had expected a bump back up to the June level of 9.5 percent, so the actual number is solidly grimmer news for workers. (The stock market, on the other hand liked it.)

Last month's small dip was the first decrease in 15 months, and it apparently didn't start a new trend. Employers in August cut fewer jobs than expected, with 216,000 lost overall as opposed to 276,000 in July. Unemployment is now at a 26-year high. White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs told reporters this morning that President Obama still expects unemployment to exceed 10 percent at some point this year.

The labor force grew by 73,000 people last month, which shows that some of those who'd dropped out of looking went back to the hunt. The July report showed that 422,000 people left the job market for whatever reason, which helped account for the month's slightly lower unemployment rate.

The ranks of the unemployed now include 14.9 million people in the U.S., up by 466,000 since last month. The average monthly job loss for May through July was 331,000, about half the rate of 645,000 from November through April. Since the beginning of the recession, 6.9 million jobs have been lost.

The broadest measure of unemployment — U6, which includes discouraged workers and those working part-time because all they can get — hit 16.8 percent. That's up from 16.3 percent in July.

After the jump, a look at the broadest measure of unemployment.

Often called the underemployment rate, U6 combines the count of people who've been laid off and are looking for work with those who have given up or resorted to part-time jobs.

Up again. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics hide caption

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics