The rate at which jobs were cut slowed in August, but the gap to be filled will be with us for a while. With 14.9 million people looking for jobs according to Moody's Economy.com, the unemployment rate won't hit 5% -- considered "normal" -- until 2014. To put this in perspective, we still have one presidential election and two mid-term contests between now and a full employment recovery.
Data published by the Department of Labor Friday puts the unemployment rate at 9.7%. In December 2007, it was only 4.7%. And, as BloggingStocks reported on Friday, it could pass 10% by the end of 2009. For teenagers, the unemployment rate has reached 26%. The number of job-seekers who have given up completely is above 750,000 -- the highest level since the Department of Labor started keeping score in 1994.
The average unemployed worker spends 24.9 weeks without a job -- the highest level since 1948 -- and 4.98 million people have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, also the peak since the end of World War II. Another 9 million are underemployed -- i.e., taking part-time work despite wanting more hours or otherwise fuller employment. The average workweek has slipped to 33.1 hours, just up from the summer low of 33 hours.
To keep pace with the increase in job hunters from immigration and population growth, 125,000 jobs would need to be created every month. Replacing the lost jobs of the past two years would require an even higher rate of job creation. So, stay focused on the future ... the distant future.