Unemployment increases, but underemployment is even higher
The nation’s unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If that number is a reflection of the country’s anemic recovery, consider the implications of Illinois’ 8.8 percent unemployment rate in September. There are more than 580,000 Illinoisans formally out of work. And these...
The nation’s unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If that number is a reflection of the country’s anemic recovery, consider the implications of Illinois’ 8.8 percent unemployment rate in September. There are more than 580,000 Illinoisans formally out of work.
And these numbers don’t paint an accurate picture of just how bleak the job market is.
By nearly every measure, this has been the nation’s weakest recovery since the Great Depression. Many discouraged workers have given up looking for employment because they don’t believe there are jobs available for them. Many others involuntarily work part time because their hours have been cut back.
That’s why the BLS tracks several unemployment figures, including the broadest measure of labor underutilization called the U6. The U6 includes not just the unemployed, but also people working part time while seeking full-time work, as well as unemployed people who haven’t looked for work in the past four months but have sought employment in the past year. Under this measure, 14.6 percent of Americans at the national level are unemployed or underemployed.
Illinois’ U6 rate also exposes the state’s dire situation. Illinois’ 582,000 unemployment figure doesn’t include an estimated 400,000 who are underemployed and the nearly 100,000 who have stopped looking for work. At 16.3 percent, Illinois’ U6 rate means that nearly 1.1 million people are unemployed or underemployed.
Illinois’ most recent U6 results fare poorly when compared with the rest of the nation and its neighbors. Illinois is a full three points higher than the 13.3 percent underemployment rate of its neighbors. If Illinois were able to drop its rate to that of its neighboring states, more than 200,000 additional Illinoisans would have a full time job for which they are qualified.
Illinois also has been trending the wrong way for several years. Both the state’s traditional unemployment rate and its U6 rate have worsened when compared with its neighbors.
Illinois is the black sheep of the region. Its high taxes, burdensome regulations, uncontrolled spendingand unaccountable politicians are pushing the state into a fiscal mess and killing jobs in the process.
More of the same will only put more Illinoisans out of work or chase them to greener pastures.
Fast Facts: Illinois
- September unemployment rate: 8.8 percent
- Illinoisans unemployed in September: 582,631
- Underemployment rate: 16.3 percent, Q3 2012
- Underemployment of Illinois’ neighboring states: 13.3 percent, Q3 2012
- Illinoisans underemployed in September: 413,229, Q3 2012
- Illinoisans unemployed or underemployed: 1.1 million, Q3 2012
- Underemployment is three points higher than neighboring states
- The gap between Illinois and neighboring states’ underemployment rates is widening
- More than 200,000 full-time jobs needed for Illinois to reach neighbors’ underemployment rate of 13.3 percent
- More than 514,000 full-time jobs needed for Illinois to reach its 2007 underemployment rate of 8.7 percent
Fast Facts: Nation
- October unemployment rate: 7.9 percent
- October underemployment rate: 14.6 percent
- Americans still looking for full-time work: 23 million
- Two-fifths of Americans looking for work have been out of work for more than six months
- Average time spent unemployed: 19.8 weeks
- 3.6 million Americans have been out of work for a year and are still looking for work
- 813,000 Americans have stopped looking for work
- 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps, a record high
- Almost one in six Americans are living in poverty, the most in two decades