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Recession Graphs

Catherine Rampell rounds up some good charts on the state of the economy. And by "good," I mean "depressing, but visually attractive." The first comes from the Atlanta Federal Reserve and concerns part-time workers. There are two types of part-time workers -- those who don't want full-time jobs, and those who can't get them. This recession has seen an uncommon leap in the size of the latter group:


The part-time business gets to one of the many failings with the unemployment rate: It only counts a particular type of frustrated worker, those who are unemployed and looking for a new position. But what about the "marginally attached"? Workers who are unemployed and want work, but haven't actively searched in the past four weeks, possibly because they can't find any work and there are no new jobs in their area. They're not counted. Nor are the frustrated part-timers. The Cleveland Federal Reserve published a chart measuring unemployment, and then showing what happens when you add these two groups: Unemployment jumps from a shade beneath 10 percent to a bit beneath 18 percent, or almost a fifth of the population.


The unemployment rate, in other words, is not doing a very good job capturing the extent of employment-related misery. This recession is a lot worse than some of the measures indicate.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 12, 2009; 5:42 PM ET
Categories:  Charts and Graphs , Economy  
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Yeah, it's called U6 (as opposed to the official unemployment rate, U3), and economists, especially those interested in labor econ, have been interested in it for years.

Posted by: GrandArch | October 12, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

None of the charts count the formerly self-employed. They don't exist in statistics-land. Don't know of any of these? How about the one-person law firm? Or the gardener with no work? Or one of the millions of 'contractors'?

If included, 25% or more of the people wanting to work are counted as unemployed. Revolutions of made of this. And civil disorder, drug usage, family breakups, and 'going postal'.

Wall Street and K Street should be worried about 'pitchforks and torches'.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | October 12, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

For purposes of comparison with other recessions, I'd skip the various U-measures, and go directly to the employment-to-population ratio.

You can argue about which U-measure is the 'right' one, but the E/P ratio is an incontrovertible FACT: *this* percentage of the population was employed at the peak of the boom, *that* percentage was employed at the trough, and the difference between the two tells you what percentage of the population, net, has been tossed out of work during the current recession.

In all previous post-WWI recessions, the worst peak-to-trough decline in the E/P ratio was 3.1%. Even during the Reagan recession, the decline was only 3.0%.

But the E/P ratio has declined 4.6% in the current recession - and we haven't even hit the employment trough yet.

But stock prices are doing OK, so Fred Hiatt's happy.

Posted by: rt42 | October 13, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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