Forward: Unemployment Jumps Up to 7.9 Percent

Posted: Feb 01, 2013 8:28 AM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the latest unemployment numbers for January. The unemployment rate has jumped back up to 7.9 percent with just 157,000 jobs being added to the economy. The number of unemployed and under-employed persons still sits at an alarming number.

The number of unemployed persons, at 12.3 million, was little changed in January. The
unemployment rate was 7.9 percent and has been at or near that level since September 2012.

In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was
about unchanged at 4.7 million and accounted for 38.1 percent of the unemployed.

Both the employment-population ratio (58.6 percent) and the civilian labor force
participation rate (63.6 percent) were unchanged in January.

These numbers are hardly enough to keep up with population growth. This report follows Wednesday's devastating news of the U.S. GDP shrinking for the first time since 2008.

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- decreased at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.1 percent.

The downturn in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected downturns in private inventory investment, in federal government spending, in exports, and in state and local government spending that were partly offset by an upturn in nonresidential fixed investment, a larger decrease in imports, and an acceleration in PCE.

Steven Russolillo over at the Wall Street Journal gives us an idea about how the Federal Reserve will react:

With the unemployment rate ticking up to 7.9%, expect Ben Bernanke & Co. to keep plowing ahead with all of their stimulus. The Fed has said its targeting an unemployment rate of 6.5% as a level where it would potentially considering raising rates.

We're quite far away from that level. In other words, Uncle Ben won't change his tune anytime soon.

UPDATE: Keep in mind the report shows the number of unemployed persons at 12.3 million. When you add in under-employed we're sitting at around 23 million people out of work. Add the immigration reform plan introduced by members of the Senate earlier this week, which would give at least a 11 million illegal immigrants (which is an extremely low estimate, it's more like 22 million) a path to citizenship and you've got around 45 million people who need a job when we're barely keeping up with population growth.

UPDATE II: Noel Sheppard points out some numbers that headlines are missing.

Lost in these headline numbers was another rise in the number of people not in the labor force.

This number now stands at a staggering 89 million, up from 80.5 million when President Obama took office.

This means that there are currently 8.5 million more Americans not in the labor force than just four years ago.