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White Women Push Jobless Rate Down to 9.7 Percent

The good news: Officially the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in January, down from 10 percent in December.

The bad news: That figure ignores (1) those working part time who’d rather be working full time, and (2) those who’ve simply stopping looking for work altogether. Also, most worker groups saw little or no improvement in their situation. From the Department of Labor:

Unemployment rates for most major worker groups — adult men (10.0 percent), teenagers (26.4 percent), blacks (16.5 percent), and Hispanics (12.6 percent) — showed little change. The jobless rate for adult women fell to 7.9 percent, and the rate for whites declined to 8.7 percent.

This combination of factors leads to this bit of tricky math: Even while January’s jobless rate fell by 0.3 percent, the number of unemployed workers rose by 20,000 — representing a shrinking work-force as folks throw in the towel and exit the labor pool. In fact, the number of people who have been jobless for more than 27 weeks hit another all-time high of 6.3 million in January — 183,000 higher than December and 5 million more since the start of the recession in December 2007. As this graph from Calculated Risk points out, that’s a problem unprecedented in recent history.

UnemployedOver26Weeks.jpg
UnemployedOver26Weeks.jpg

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