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The real unemployment rate

By Jonathan Sweet

We've been writing in various articles over the last year about the declining unemployment rate, which has dropped to 5 percent.

That's a very good thing, of course, but it also doesn't present the full picture, as anyone who is paying attention knows. A new report tries to get closer to the real situation.

One important note: The report comes from the Alliance for a Just Society, which supports the $15 minimum wage, so keep in mind they certainly have a political agenda.

That said, it does drill down to some important numbers. Officially, there were 7.9 million job seekers in the United States in the last government employment release. The report, though, says the number is actually closer to 17 million: basically, those 7.9 million official lookers and another 9 million that are underemployed, "marginally attached to the labor force, and discouraged workers who would want a job if one was available."

According to the report, though, there 17.7 million employment seekers competing for only 5 million job openings in 2014, barely half of which met the group's definition of a livable wage of $15 an hour or more.

"Across the country, six out of seven job seekers will be unable to find a job that pays at least $15 per hour, and almost 13 million will be unable to find any job," the authors write.

The report also drills down to the state level. It can be downloaded from the group's site.

2 comments

  1. I often wonder, and maybe someone can tell me, what were these numbers before the great recession? What was the real unemployment rate in 2004-2005, or even back in the late 90's when the economy was really rolling. Are these numbers all that different from then?

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