The unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent from 8.9 percent in April. Economists expected unemployment would increase to 9.2 percent.
It was the highest unemployment rate since August of 1983. And the official unemployment rate only captures part of the pain being felt by job seekers. More than a quarter of unemployed people have been out of work for six months or more, and the number of long-term unemployed reached nearly 4 million, the highest reading on records that go back to 1980.
There were also 9.1 million people who were working part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work or they had their hours cut back. This was also a record high.
When counting people who wanted full-time work who are working part-time, as well as some of the people who are not counted as unemployed because they had stopped looking for work, the so-called underemployment reading rose to a record level of 16.4 percent.
I am near-certain we will hear people insisting that the fact that the number of jobs lost last month — 345,000 — was less than previous months represents good news. By this standard, a month in which the unemployment rate remains the same is an economic bonanza.
But that’s okay, because the stimulus is creating jobs, particularly in construction.
Oh, wait, according to the Department of Labor’s numbers out this morning, construction jobs dropped from 6,362,000 in April to 6,303,000 in May.