The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the current unemployment rate is lower than it has been in six years: 6.3%. While that’s good news, you may want to resist the urge to fully celebrate because the figure only tells part of the story. Here are some other critical numbers that help to paint a more complete picture:
1. 806,000 People Dropped Out of the Labor Force in April
It’s no secret why the job rate hit a low – nearly a million Americans gave up on looking for work altogether last month alone. In its official statistic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not include people who aren’t looking for work as “unemployed,” meaning that millions of people who have been discouraged by repeated rejections and a poor economy are conveniently left out of the equation entirely.
After last month’s massive drop in job-seekers, that means 92 million Americans are out of the labor force in total. While that figure includes retired individuals, that still leaves far too many working-age adults who have given up hope on securing employment.
2. 344,000 New People Filed for Unemployment Benefits Last Week
It’s interesting that in the same month where the government is heralding record unemployment rates that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits has also been increasingly high. For three consecutive weeks, the number of new applicants has risen, jumping from 320,000 to 344,000 just last week.
Though some economists have dismissed the job as a “seasonal shift,” the numbers could also indicate that people who were hoping to find work on their own for some time are finally realizing that they need government assistance to get by since their job prospects are not looking good. That’s not good news because…
3. 2 Million People Were Forced Off Unemployment Benefits
As of the beginning of March, 2 million still actively seeking for jobs were no longer able to receive unemployment benefits. Thanks to Congress opting not to renew long-term unemployment benefits this past December, people who were depending on this money to get by abruptly found themselves out of luck.
Looking forward, the prospect for helping these does not look all that good. While the Senate (including a handful of Republicans) has agreed to give more financial support to the long-term unemployed, the House’s Republican stronghold continues to dismiss the idea of re-extending these benefits. Considering the average person who loses his or her job goes a full 35 weeks before finding work again, the existing benefits do not even cover that gap.
4. 1/3 of Breast Cancer Survivors Remain Unemployed Years Later
Although this statistic pertains to a small subset of the U.S. population, it does demonstrate that Americans facing health crises have a difficult time reentering the workforce. According to a study by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, one-third of women who were working prior to their diagnosis are still unemployed.
Those who underwent chemotherapy were especially likely to still find themselves jobless years later. Evidently, as “inspiring” as people consider breast cancer survivors, employers don’t view them as viable candidates. For the record, more than half of the unemployed women were interested in returning to a job, with most actively looking for employment.
5. 64% of Long-Term Unemployed Still No Better Off More Than a Year Later
The longer someone is unemployed, the worse his or her chances of ever landing a job become. Long-term unemployment figures paint a frightening picture of people who have seemingly been disregarded by hirers permanently.
Researchers looked at job-seekers who had been unemployed for at least six month, and then checked up on them again 15 months later. For most, the year had not been kind. 30% of these people were still unemployed and looking for work, while another 34% weren’t working or looking for work anymore. Of the 36% who were now considered “employed,” only about 1/3 were in full-time, stable positions.