Unemployment hits 13.3 percent

The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are out. The U.S. unemployment rate (the percentage of the labor force that wants a job but does not have it) in August rose to 13.3%.

Labor force: 154,577,000. Unemployed: 20,537,000.

You can make the number look a little better by not counting the people who can no longer collect unemployment — then it’s only 9.7%. But we prefer realism. More than one out of eight Americans is out of a job.

On the bright side, the latest numbers from the Virginia Employment Commission, released September 1, show that Virginia’s unemployment rate is about half the national average: 6.9% in July from a 7.3% mark in June.

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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8 Responses to Unemployment hits 13.3 percent

  1. I know that some think we have high unemployment in the Charlottesville area but the last numbers I saw where around 6%. Seeing 13.3% is really scary.

    The people in Charlottesville should realize how good we really have it.

  2. Susan Horton says:

    The unemployment rate does vary between States and there has been a crisis of job loss throughout the United States. Most of the Los Angeles area is highly industrial, but further North in the same county, jobs were fewer to begin with before the slump in jobs. Just in the Antelope Valley, unemployment is at 14.2%.

  3. Doug Francis says:

    Your headline sure caught my attention, and then the official link did nothing more than reassure me that the official statistic was actually 9.7%. So I hit “The Google” to try and track down where the 13.3% number could have come from and it sent me to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) blog post on the subject.

    That WSJ post had this headline: “Broader Unemployment Rate Hits 16.8% in August”

    Jeepers, that is far worse than your statistic… maybe I like 13.3 better than 16.8% which is almost 17% — again, jeepers!

    It seems the WSJ blog post cited using the older U-6 methodology to get your 13.3% figure. Hmmm?

    This all seems obscure to me not being a statistician, but I did take a statistics class in college which taught me you can make up almost any formula to get the number you want. Which is probably why the WSJ clarified their statement with this explanation.

    “Through some calculation, a comparable measure can be determined in the current report. Under the old U-6 methodology, the August rate would be 13.3%, the highest rate since 1983, but still below the peak.”

  4. I use the same methodology as the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    unemployed / total workforce = unemployment rate

    The difference is, when the BLS counts “unemployed,” it doesn’t count people who are no longer able to collect unemployment benefits! They’re labeled “Persons who currently want a job” but aren’t included as “unemployed.” Go figure.

    When you add them into the unemployed number, you go from 9.7% to 13.3%.

    BLS: 14,928,000 / 154,577,000 = .0097 or 9.7%
    Me: (14,928,000+5,609,000) / 154,577,000 = .0133 or 13.3%

    Oh, and that 13.3% doesn’t include people who have taken part-time jobs to make ends meet, either. They’re considered employed (which, obviously, they are), even though those folks are looking for something to get back on their career path.

    And I agree about being able to do just about anything with statistics, which is why I used the BLS’s methodology and numbers. They’re the “official” figures; I just made sure to include everyone who’s willing and able to work.

  5. Doug Francis says:

    At the end of the day, it’s all Greek to me!

  6. Ogden Homes says:

    That’s very high unemployment rate for the month of August. But, it is not a surprised for me as we know that US economy are still struggling. Expect the rise again for the coming months.

  7. 13% is a sick number. I remember watching a special on tv about how Ireland at one point had 40% unemployment.

  8. Justin says:

    Wow! I had no idea that unemployment was that high in Virginia. That is approaching the number we have here in Medellin, Colombia! It would be interesting to know what industries have been hardest hit by the current crisis in Virginia. I thought Virginia had alot of tech jobs. Good blog.

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