Giving up

Economists are abuzz over the numbers behind the big number of the day. While non-farm labor employment fell by a staggering 533,000 jobs, ticking the national unemployment rate to 6.7% from 6.5%, the Times’ Economix blog offers a much darker perspective.

According to the Labor Department, the number of unemployed workers rose by 251,000 in November. But the number of people who were outside of the labor force — that is, neither working nor looking for work — rose by much more: 637,000. These people aren’t counted as unemployed in the government’s statistics, because they are not looking for work. Many of them, presumably, have stopped looking for work because they didn’t think they could find a good job.

That’s roughly the equivalent of every man, woman and child in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul throwing up their hands and saying, “I give up.”

The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a few more interesting nuggets. The place to be appears to be in health care. It looks to be the only major sector to add a significant number of jobs over the last year.

Health care employment grew by 34,000 in November. Over the past 12 months, health care has added 369,000 jobs.

When the numbers show that 1 in 5 teenagers can’t find work, it adds to sense that college is becoming unaffordable.

If you have a job, you’re likely to be spending less time physically at work.

In November, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.1 hour to 33.5 hours, seasonally adjusted–the lowest in the history of the series, which began in 1964.

In other words, welcome to The Recession!

Update: Of course, Wall Street takes these numbers and runs up 3 to 4 percent.