This morning’s March unemployment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics were roughly as expected–which is to say, awful. After a while, you begin to run out of dire-sounding adjectives, so I’ll simply quote the BLS release on the top-line numbers: “In March, the number of unemployed persons increased by 694,000 to 13.2 million, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has grown by about 5.3 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 3.4 percentage points. Half of the increase in both the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate occurred in the last 4 months…. In March, the number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) climbed by 423,000 to 9.0 million.”
The broader U6 measurement of under-employment–which includes not only those who have lost their jobs recently but “discouraged workers” who’ve stopped looking and those who are working part-time against their wishes due to the state of the economy–rose from 14.8 percent to 15.6 percent. That’s the second straight month in which it’s risen nearly a full point, and it means that almost one in six American workers are either out of a job or making ends meet with temporary and part-time gigs.
As the Associated Press points out, “”Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost a net total of 5.1 million jobs, with almost two-thirds of the losses occurring in the last five months.”
It practically goes without saying, but: Once again, there’s no bottom in sight.