If the American economy is recovering from the last recession, it continues to be difficult to see it in the monthly employment situation report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Delayed by the Oct. 1 government shutdown, the BLS released the Sept. 2013 data this morning. The unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent in August. Non-farm payrolls increased by 148,000 jobs.
The number of Americans who were unemployed in September fell by 61,000 to a seasonally adjusted 11, 255,000. The number of employed rose by 133,000. The labor force increased by 73,000 while the number of Americans not in the labor force also rose by 136,000.
Looking at the changes from May to September, the data shows little improvement. The number of Americans unemployed fell by 505,000. The number employed increased by 405,000 over the five months, while the labor force fell a total of 99,000. The civilian population increased in that period by 805,000 while the number of Americans not in the labor force grew by 904,000. About 100,000 working Americans stopped working and are not looking for work.
The average unemployed American worker has been out of a job for 36.9 weeks. Half of all Americans who are unemployed have been so for over 16 weeks. The long-term unemployed numbered 4,146,000 in September which is the lowest monthly total in 2013. Those unemployed for less than five weeks and for 15 to 26 weeks rose in number which suggests that long-term unemployment numbers in October will rise again.
A large number of the 144,303,000 who were employed in Sept. 2013 were part-time workers, 26.9 million or 18.6 percent of all those employed. Some ten percent of that number could only find part-time jobs. The number of Americans working part-time, no matter the reason, has changed very little from Sept. 2012.
An alternative measure of American unemployment, U-6, fell slightly to 13.6 percent from the Aug. 2013 figure of 13.7 percent. This rate has fallen from the Sept. 2012 rate of 14.7 percent. U-6 not only includes the unemployed from the traditional unemployment rate calculation, but other categories of workers who would like full time work but have not found it, such as discouraged workers and part-timers.