While listening to the radio yesterday, I heard one newscaster announce that some economists were nervous about the February 2010 unemployment rate. Their concern was focused on the winter storms that have plagued much of the country and whether these storms would lead to another increase in the unemployment rate. This morning the Department of Labor released the official February 2010 unemployment figures and the rate remains unchanged at 9.7 percent.
The February 2010 labor report actually included a special note to address the weather situation. “People who miss work for weather-related events are counted as employed whether or not they are paid for the time off.” Additionally, clean up and repair crews may have seen a surge in temporary employment due to the storms.
The February 2010 report is very similar to the January 2010 report. Adult males have a 10.0 percent unemployment rate while only 8.0 percent of adult women are unemployed. Minorities and teenagers are still unemployed at significantly higher rates than the rest of the population. The rate of individuals that have been employed for more than 27 weeks also remained relatively unchanged. However, with 6.1 million people out of work for more than half a year, this fact is still grim.
As the recession drags on, more and more Americans are being considered marginally attached to the labor force. These are workers that aren’t employed, want to work, but haven’t looked for work in the four weeks prior to the unemployment survey. As of February 2010, 2.5 million people were considered marginally attached and almost half, 1.2 million, are considered discouraged workers.
These discouraged workers aren’t looking for work because they do not feel that there are any jobs out there and so have essentially given up. The other 1.3 million marginally attached workers weren’t actively seeking work for a variety of reasons including attending school – perhaps to increase their skill set to prepare for a new career.