Still sinking

The nation’s unemployment rate was released this morning. It’s now at 9.4 percent, higher than economists (who never seem to get it right) had expected. Add in all the people who’ve given up looking for work (question: who has this luxury? If you give up looking for work, what your plan?), and the rate is 16.4 percent.

The worse the economy gets, the better for Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart announced this morning it’s going to add 22,000 jobs. The giant retailer is holding its annual shareholders meeting today. It’s available via Webcast and should be particularly enjoyable for anyone who regularly follows Up With People.

  • KC

    What is really, really sad is seeing old folks who should be able to live off their retirement savings working at Wal-Mart because the bottom has fallen out of the economy. There but for the grace of God go I…

  • Paul

    Thanks for including the 16.4% figure, it helps provide a more complete picture and is frequently neglected.

  • Anna

    I was laid off at the end of 2008, and currently am included in the 9.4% group in the unemployment statistics. However, I may well slide into the “no longer looking for work” group (the 16.4% number) – which, as I recall, also includes people who decide to go back to school or take part-time work. This is not a matter of luxury – I certainly don’t have the luxury of not being able to work – but going back to school full-time would likely provide some financial aid that could help with living expenses, and part-time work would not be ideal, but would at least provide more structure to the days and weeks. Since full-time jobs are hard to come by these days, after awhile, you change what you look for, change what seems “good enough,” change what the goals are.

    It does feel like giving up in a way, but having something that I can point to and say, “I’m working on that” or “I’m doing that” is far better than many more months of “I’m still looking for work.”

  • Paul

    The other thing about the U 6 unemployment figure (the 16.4%) is that I believe it includes those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. The Clinton administration cut these folks out of the official rate in the early 90s. People who have exhausted their benefits are probably not best characterized as living in luxury.

  • Paul

    The other thing to keep in mind is job vacancy rates. I personally think unemployment rates should never be discussed without vacancy rates. The vacancy rate tells you how many jobs there compared with how many people are looking for work. In MN right now there’s 1 job for every three people looking for work. Given the fact that 2 out of 3 people are simply not going to find work no matter how hard they try, the phenomena of “discouraged” job seekers becomes a little more comprehensible without appealing to the notion of luxury.

  • Tyler

    Paul and others, thanks for your comments. The vacancy rate is an extremely valuable statistic. This pants a far more depressing view of the state of our economy, and makes me inclined to be more wary with the credit card.

  • Bob Collins

    I’m not sure that a vacancy rate as described means that 2 out of every 3 people aren’t going to find a job no matter how hard they try. I don’t see where it indicates probability of job-finding success. I think it simply is what it is: a ratio of the number of unemployed per available job. It doesn’t mean that — in the case of a signal statistic — there are X number of people trying to get that particular job.

    Also, according to the state, in the 4th quarter of 08 there was one job per 5.7 unemployed people.

  • tiredboomer

    Did Wal-Mart announce the job increases as a good thing or bad? Sure any job is better than no job (that was true for me when I went through some “difficulties” in 2002-2003). BUT, how many of those 22,000 jobs will pay enough to support a family? How many of those jobs have health care coverage? Family or individual? If there is health care, is it real health care or something dressed up to look like health care until it’s needed?

    The quality of jobs is nearly as important as the number of jobs, our political leaders at ALL levels of government need to realize that (and ACT on that knowledge).

    Good luck Anna I’ve faced what you’re facing. Keep short term survival separate from long term goals. I was laid-off 47 days after 9/11 and didn’t fully reach my long term recovery goal until 6/23/08. Every day that goes by, my thoughts and prayers are with you and the thousands of others going through job loss.

  • Paul

    //I’m not sure that a vacancy rate as described means that 2 out of every 3 people aren’t going to find a job no matter how hard they try.

    Wow, I didn’t know it jumped that much, but yes that’s exactly what it means. It doesn’t tell you what any specific individual’s job prospects are, that obviously depends on individual factors. If there is only one job for every 5.7 people looking it means that there simply is no job for the remaining 4.7 people to take, no matter how hard they look, the jobs just aren’t there. How that shakes out in specific job categories and industries varies but if there are only 31,000 jobs and 150,000 people looking for work that means 120,000 people just aren’t going to get a job, at least not in this state.

    Yes, people can make their own jobs and start their own companies, but with a 50% failure rate and 2-5 years before profitability entrepreneurialism never makes a dent in the unemployment rates. And the longer this recession lasts the less capital and credit there is to start new businesses.

  • Elizabeth T

    I wonder where I fall into the unemployment rating?

    I stopped “working” – i.e., I stopped receiving a paycheck – in August 04, when I decided it was an opportune time to be a stay-at-home-Mom. Killing my boss seemed more emotionally gratifying on a short-term basis, but not a good professional choice. I was lucky enough to have a husband whose job paid enough that we we could do this. “Paid enough” translated more effectively to “had health insurance”.

    I went to grad school in 07. So, am I unemployed?

    If I start looking for a job before I graduate, does that make me unemployed?

    If I never get on the unemployment rolls (which I don’t even know if I could) – is that what would trigger me becoming a statistic to the Dept. Labor?

    How bizarre – I never considered myself in this light before.