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Friday, May 04, 2012

Unemployment 8.1% As Labor Force Participation Drops To Lows Not Seen Since 1981

By Susan Duclos

The official unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent which would be good news if the reason for the drop weren't such bad news. 522,000 people left the workforce,  bringing labor force participation to the lowest levels seen since 1981.

Simply put, unemployment numbers going down are a good thing if people are coming into the job market, not so much when people are disappearing from the job market and not factored into the jobs report.

Ed Morrissey grabs the chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing labor force participation for the last 30 years:

Click chart to enlarge

Then he adds: "Note that the biggest and steepest plunge has taken place since the Obama recovery started in June 2009."

Unemployment per demographic:
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.5 percent), adult women (7.4 percent), teenagers (24.9 percent), whites (7.4 percent), and Hispanics (10.3 percent) showed little or no change in April, while the rate for blacks (13.0 percent) declined over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent in April (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U6, real time unemployment which is the total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, is still over 14 percent.

From the report:
In April, 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Once again, as is usual in our unemployment pieces we list areas still at or above the official national average for unemployment are:

Arizona- 8.6%
California- 11.0%
D.C.- 9.8%
Florida- 9.0%
Georgia- 9.0%
Illinois- 8.8%
Indiana- 8.2%
Kentucky- 8.6%
Michigan- 8.5%
Mississippi- 9.0%
Nevada- 12.0%
New Jersey- 9.0%
New York - 8.5%
North Carolina- 9.7%
Oregon- 8.6%
Rhode Island- 11.1%
South Carolina- 8.9%
Washington- 8.3%

Data obtained from Bureau of Labor Statistics on the Local Area Unemployment Statistics page. (Right side)

[Update] Tweet of the day on unemployment: