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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Unemployment Rates and Duration of Unemployment

by Calculated Risk on 4/03/2010 08:57:00 AM

Here is a graph of the unemployment rate seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted - plus, by request, two more graphs of the duration of unemployment.

Unemployment Seasonal Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The first graph shows the calculated unemployment rate - both seasonally adjusted (SA) and not seasonally adjusted (NSA).

Some sites noted the NSA rate was "only" 9.5% when the SA moved above 10% last October. Other sites noted that the NSA rate had hit 10.6% in January. Both sites were correct - but there is a clear seasonal pattern for employment, so the SA unemployment rate is the one to use. Note: the SA rate will be above the NSA rate in April.

ALSO - the graph above uses the calculated unemployment rate (unrounded). For March, the calculated unemployment rate was 9.749% up from 9.687% in February. Both were rounded to 9.7% ...

And on duration of unemployment, by request:

Unemployment Duration This graph shows the duration of unemployment as a percent of the civilian labor force (line graph unstacked). The graph shows the number of unemployed in four categories as provided by the BLS: less than 5 week, 6 to 14 weeks, 15 to 26 weeks, and 27 weeks or more.

Note: The BLS reports 15+ weeks, so the 15 to 26 weeks number was calculated.

This really shows the change in turnover - there was more turnover in the '70s and '80s, since the 'less than 5 weeks' category was much higher as a percent of the civilian labor force than in recent years. This changed in the early '90s - perhaps as a result of more careful hiring practices or changes in demographics or maybe other reasons - but if the level of normal turnover was the same as in the '80s, the current unemployment rate would probably be the highest since WWII.

Unemployment Duration The last graph is a repeat, but the information is stacked in reverse order.

In March 2010, there were a record 6.55 million people unemployed for 27 weeks or more, or 4.3% of the labor force.

For more on duration (and possible causes) see my post yesterday: Duration of Unemployment

Earlier employment posts yesterday:

  • March Employment Report: 162K Jobs Added, 9.7% Unemployment Rate for graphs of unemployment rate and a comparison to previous recessions.
  • Employment-Population Ratio, Part Time Workers, Unemployed over 26 Weeks
  • Diffusion Index and Temporary Help
  • Replay of a Q&A with BLS is here.