Gallup: Underemployment In The U.S. Rises to 20.3% in March

asiablues's picture

By Dian L. Chu, Economic Forecasts and Opinions

Reports from the Labor Department today showed companies in the U.S. created more jobs in March than at any time in the past three years, showing the recovery is broadening and becoming more entrenched. 

Payrolls rose by 162,000 workers, the most gain since March 2007, thought the increase included 48,000 temporary Census workers. Unemployment remains at 9.7% for a third month.

Record Long-term Unemployed
Nevertheless, behind the rosy headlines, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also give a grim side of the employment picture.

The number of long-term unemployed (more than 27 weeks) in March rose to more than 6.5 million. The percentage of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more also rose to a record 44.1% of all jobless.

The Labor Dept. figures also showed average earnings per hour dropped last month and the number of people working part-time because they couldn’t find full-time work increased.

A Rise in The Underemployed
The underemployment rate -- which includes the part-timers and people who want work but have given up looking - - increased to 16.9% from 16.8%, based on government data, seasonally adjusted.

However, the latest Gallup Daily tracking finds that 20.3% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed in March-- a slight uptick from the relatively flat January and February numbers. Gallup employment data are not seasonally adjusted. (See chart)

Gallop concludes its findings as follows:

As unemployed Americans find part-time, temporary, and seasonal work, the official unemployment rate could decline. However, this does not necessarily mean more Americans are working at their desired capacity. It will continue to be important to track underemployment -- to shed light on the true state of the U.S. workforce."  

Meaningful Job Creation = More Budget Deficits
So what can be done?

Congress has extended unemployment benefits for longer periods to help workers cope. A jobs bill Congress recently passed gives employers a tax credit for hiring workers unemployed for two months or more.

Such credits don't actually create jobs. A new infrastructure program, for example, would certainly help the 24.9% unemployed Americans in the construction sector.

Unfortunately, any meaningful job creation programs would require more deficit spending on a new stimulus bill, which is politically impossible in an election year.

So, we are pretty much in the predicament as described by Secretary Geithner in a recent inteview at NBC’s "Today" show,

"[The unemployment rate] is still terribly high and is going to stay unacceptably high for a very long time,"

Overly Optimistic Markets?  
Meanwhile, markets have turned increasingly bullish on economic growth sending the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to their highest closes in 18 months.

Although the course of the economy and markets is generally heading towards the positive direction, the grim labor market outlook could come into play sooner rather than later, among some other downside risk factors.  From that perspective, stocks may have been fully priced or even gotten ahead of themselves.

Economic Forecasts and Opinions

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Thorny Xi's picture

This country collapsed in September 2008. Everything since then has been "purple mist."

People tell me I'm lucky - I have been expecting little in my old age and planned for that, but I'll just be damned if subsistence farming is looking that good to me, now that it might be the best 99% of us can hope for.

Peasants with credit cards. That's all we've been for 30 years.

sethstorm's picture

This country collapsed in September 2008. Everything since then has been "purple mist."

That's because businesses have a lot more flexibility in influence, location, and citizenship than individuals.

Either you block the exits and influence for long enough, or you let the citizens have the same advantages.

OCTOPVS's picture

"orderly line" to "unruly mob"

that will be the unemployment line soon....cant wait.

sethstorm's picture

Record Long-term Unemployed
Nevertheless, behind the rosy headlines, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also give a grim side of the employment picture.

The number of long-term unemployed (more than 27 weeks) in March rose to more than 6.5 million. The percentage of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more also rose to a record 44.1% of all jobless.

The traditional way of considering these people "damaged goods" may make things worse as well.  How do you get these people back in(and not underemployed) when the only thing that's wrong with them is time?  At some point, they may have no longer allow it to be selection criteria.  They are far from entitlement mentality, and just on the wrong side of employment.

Payrolls rose by 162,000 workers, the most gain since March 2007, thought the increase included 48,000 temporary Census workers. Unemployment remains at 9.7% for a third month.

If unemployment/underemployment is the question, permatemping everyone(or anyone) is the wrong answer.

verum quod lies's picture

The latest unemployment from Shadow Statistics is 21.7% vs. the BLS's U-6 of 16.9% and U-3 os 9.7 (March 2010 numbers). I trust the Shadow Statistics number more than anything currently comming from the BLS (based on incentives alone). Always remember, for example, that after one year of trying to find a job the BLS defines you as no longer employed. Thus, by the BLS methodology you can theoretically have nobody working yet 0% 'unemployment'. Word to the wise, watch tax receipts and other figures that are hard to distort if you really want to judge whether we are actually recovering, but I wouldn't waste too much time doing that yet.

In addition, and as pointed out by mostly bloggers: "a 'jobless' recovery is an oxymoron." That is, it is completely moronic to discuss a 'recovery' if employment is flat to down and real incomes are flat to down. That isn't a recovery, that is a soft fuzzy warm place for children to hide from heir latest nightmare. Given real unemployment and underemployment, now is a time for adults, not freightened children and politicians trying to keep their jobs.


RobotTrader's picture

Here is a report from Rasputin, hanging around the Apple store at the mall...

According to Ras, the recession is officially over, and unemployment or "underemployment" are no longer issues for us to be concerned with, based on the maniacal behavior of the hordes at the Apple store...



Well, it's now official: the "Great Recession" (that never really
was) is OVER...

- Sat, Apr 3, 2010 - 08:11 AM


And what is it that compels a
formerly-hysterically-screeching-doom-and-gloom Rasputin to finally,
fully capitulate?

Well, I'll tell you:

Even as I peck out this pathetic missive, I am sitting in front of
that Mecca of sheeple consumerism, the Apple Store, where the proles
have been lined up for HOURS just to buy--virtually sight unseen--the
latest iPad gimcrack for five hundred to one thousand fiatscos.

Not to mention the FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND units Apple has ALREADY
sold--again sight unseen--before the product even shipped.

This frenzied activity is a far, far cry from the apparent "Great
Disintegration" a frightened Rasputin was documenting two years ago when
Bear Stearns melted down.

And clearly nothing like the panic that ensued when Fannie and
Freddie (and the rest of the financial system) imploded a year and
one-half ago.

Neither is it even mildly reminiscent of the palpable fear of
February, 2009, when Citi and BofA simultaneously collapsed.

Nope, we're right back to "Party Like it's 1999" mode, folks. And
I'm witnessing it with my own two rat-like Rasputin eyes. The local
news stations even have their cameras set up here at the mall and are
interviewing the throngs of lambs lined up to get their hooves on the
coveted geegaw.

(Ras Conclusion): That's it; the final blow. The "Great Recession"
(that never really was) has ended, sheeps are back out in force
shopping, munching, signing off on McMortgage and McAuto debt and
generally living large, just as they were before that brief economic
interlude of 2008-2009.

Therefore, it's time for all stock bears and GHS/SHS types to admit
defeat, throw in their collective towels and buy APPL stock.

For, we have been defeated my friends. Hands down. No ifs, ands or
buts about it.

Now, please excuse me while I attempt to elbow my way into this
line which is snaking around the outside of the mall...LOL!

Update: the scene has gone from "orderly line" to "unruly mob"...

- Sat, Apr 3, 2010 - 09:01 AM HUNDREDS of proles crowd around the store, overwhelming the
hapless security guards and Apple Store worker-bees who are vainly
attempting to keep the rioters in check.

LOL, I don't recall the throngs being this insane even in the soup
lines at the depth of the "Great Depression" of the 1930s.

We're saved, SAVED, I tell you. And we have "Saint Steven" Jobs to
thank for it all.

And frankly, believe it or not, I'm actually RELIEVED to see this
craziness first-hand because I now KNOW the crisis (that wasn't) is over
and I can continue to try to integrate back into sheeple society.

(Final Ras update): Unbearable CHEERING from the crowd as the store
opened its doors! I've not heard anything quite like it since the

Update: the insanity INTENSIFIES as the sheeps offfer to buy the

- Sat, Apr 3, 2010 - 09:59 AM

...from those "lucky" enough to have scored one.

The going offer from those in line to the "annoited" owners of the
world-changing device?


Yep, heard it with my own rat-like Rasputin ears. (And no, I'm not
standing in the sheeple queue alongside the great unwashed masses.
Rather, the line is so long it has wended its way as far over as the
lounge area of the mall a hundred yards from the Apple Store entrance.
Yet, one can STILL hear the cheering and bidding going on. It's nuts, I
tell you. Nuts.)


moneymutt's picture

yeah, and nobody bought luxury goods during depression, and there were no consumer trends or crazes during depression...this proves nothing, what part of anecdotal doesn't this guy understand...and besides I have a friend who lost his house, lost his retirement savings, is unemployed and doing some under the table work, has no TV, not internet, no cable, no xbox, lives in dumpy studio that he has occasionally shared with a friend, and he bought a wifi Ipad he plans to use at library and hot spots...he wants it to replace an old laptop as his main source of entertainment, and connection to internet for looking for work and for play

Ipad is under $800, a cheap luxury even if everything else in your life like a $15 to $25k new car, a house, furniture, TV etc...are out of reach...

JR's picture

This is what it means, IMO:

There’re a certain percentage of people who buy every single product that Apple comes up with. My cousin could be down there in that line this morning… you know, he’s one of those people who’ll stand in line for a $159 concert ticket…sleep on the side walk in a sleeping bag for a Black Friday special…  It has nothing to do with recession or recovery. Probably there’re even a lot of unemployed engineers in that line…

In short, a lot of them aren’t buying, IMO.  They’re standing in line just to look at it. In fact, I know my cousin’s there, right now.  When he sees people in the office on Monday morning, and a guy asks, “Did you see the iPad?” Heaven forbid that he should be embarrassed to say, “Well, I haven’t seen it yet,” just to hear, “Well, where’ve you been?  It’s been out for two days!”

My question, “Did LOL buy one, or order one, and what did he pay?  Or was he just looking?” 

Dixie Normous's picture


I pods, I- phones, I pads, I gotta haves, will drag us out the Great Recession.

The only thing is I don't know how Americans buying all the crap made in China and paying a monthly fee to operate it is supposed to create jobs.

I wish I could quantify what a drag on the economy all the non wage earners (like kids) are having on the wage earners (like parents) with all the electronic gadgets.  How much money is thrown into the economic abyss via cellphone/text contracts paid by people who probably can't afford them but have to have them out of fear of being ostracized.

johnny9iron's picture

I am right with you guys. I went back to school in the fall and my spending habits are radically changed. It'll be two more years before I am back in the game and then I will be like kurt_cagle, paying off my debt. Thank God for leveraged currency trading or I don't know what i would do now--oh that's right, lets change those rules so I can't even make a little from home. You just can't make up the arrogance of these people.

Don't worry, i saw the evening news and they said the economy is terrific and we will all be fine if we just close our eyes and trust the administration like they do at Rockefeller Plaza. 

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

Watching the current pols in DC, does anyone on ZH think there is any sense of urgency about these Job numbers ..Is the focus of the Fed Gov elsewhere and if so why??

kurt_cagle's picture

I'm working at this stage, for the first time in about a year, but to do so, I'm also basically having to spend two weeks a month flying from the Pacific Northwest to Baltimore and back, and am basically subcontracting to another subcontractor to a large contractor to a governmental agency. The money, admittedly, is good, but right now most of it is going towards servicing debt from a year of being unemployed.

Like QQQBall, I'm self-employed, though in the IT field this isn't all that unusual. However, I agree that self-employment can be brutal - you're taxed at a fairly stiff rate (and pay self-employment taxes), you aren't eligible for unemployment benefits, and quite frequently you pay a much higher premium for health care unless you can get involved with a collective of some sort. If you're somewhat older and can actually do decent specialized consulting, self-employment (or even a small chapter S corporation) can make up for that, but for a lot of people who suddenly find themselves in the role of consulting without planning for it will likely not find it to be easy to make it work.

moneymutt's picture

if you are making good money as self-employed, you should be S corp, now...then only half your earnings have to be wages, and thus you are not paying FICA on all your earnings, and since you are only paying 15 percent on half earnings, you are really only paying essentially 7.5 percent employed people are paying because all their earnings are wages..of course, you get hosed on healthcare, but there are pools you can sort of "unionize" with now and get treated sort of like you are in a big business pool...and of course, there will be the health exchanges pools in 2014...and you can write off more of your earnings with expenses, like travel, commute, home office etc..things that an employee can not write down their wages with. I have a friend that was self employed, did S corp working for same client on site for  2 years but took full-time job when company said they would be letting independent contractors go...she had been paying thru nose for health care thru a state pool due to having some chronic health issues, but counting in that, paid vacations, 401 k matching everything...she was way worse off being employed, and much of the difference was taxes...and of course, lower wages...but wage earners always are the most taxed folks, as long as self-employed people go S corp...

QQQBall's picture

Underemployment is under-estimated. Guys in my field are making appx half what a decent year brings. Maybe revs are down 40%, which slices deeper on the bottom line. Not to mention, working harder for less since fees are lower and work is more more spotty at times. When work does flow, it seems to come in spurts; like trying to catch a deluge in a paper cup - then it tails off. Most are self-employed and cannot claim UE bennies.

Dirtt's picture

The Banksters and the Jokers are going to try to smear the tea party movement.  Gauging the success might have more weight than you think.

Scott Brown proved the unthinkable. If you told me just 6 months ago that that guy took Kennedy's seat I would have immediately started searching for the crack pipe or the Xanax.

The push back is already historical thanks to bandwidth, digital technology, citizen journalism and unbelievable  out-of-control <corruption, ambition, gall, disdain, contempt, collusion, insider dealing, insider trading, conspiracy, conspiracy, conspiracy, conspiracy, conspiracy, fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud> and the fate of a nation is only months away. If you think this is melodrama then you are probably on the take.

Mister Market didn't buy Congress only to get Texas-Two Stepped by middle America. If they get even a sniff of that kind of power shift then Talking The Book might take on new meaning. More like throwing the book.

glenlloyd's picture

Even if unemployment declines, it doesn't say anything about the types of jobs people are getting (having to take) to pay the bills.

The whole picture is pretty bleak IMO.

Nikki's picture

All that matters is that Monday the Dow will be up 50 points on low volumes and you will have to adjust your stops higher later in the evening.

I predict C and BAC will be volume leaders.
FAZ will close lower.
Oil, gold and silver higher.
TBT lower..


rrbluefin's picture

Out of necessity I became self employed after one year of unemployment.  That was almost two years ago.  Though I have continued to search for other gainful employment there is damn little out there and even fewer that want to speak with someone over 50 who is obviously over qualified for the positions they want to fill.  As it is, my income has taken a 50% hit and my spending closer to 75% not including the sky high insurance rates I'm now forced to pay.  I know I'm not alone in this and also know this does not bode well for any suppossed "recovery".

I await the day when our esteemed members of congress will see their pay cut by an amount equal to the U-6 unemployment rate in their state/district every 6 months.  Only when THEY start feeling the same pain we are will they pull their heads out of their collective ass and actually do something to help this economy.

I know, I wait in vain...

BS Inc.'s picture

Unfortunately, any meaningful job creation programs would require more deficit spending on a new stimulus bill, which is politically impossible in an election year.

Well, if they hadn't fucked up the initial stimulus so badly, they could probably push another one through, so it's their own fucking fault that it's "politically impossible", isn't it? Even if the only thing wrong with the initial stimulus was the public's perception of it, that's sometimes all that matters in politics.

They underdelivered relative to their forecasts (the stimulus, as passed, was supposed to keep us under 8% unemployment), so that's why it's "politically impossible" to pass another.

Note that I am not discussing the merits of the original stimulus, only the perception of it.

Neo-zero's picture


"Even if the only thing wrong with the initial stimulus was the public's perception of it, that's sometimes all that matters in politics.

They underdelivered relative to their forecasts (the stimulus, as passed, was supposed to keep us under 8% unemployment), so that's why it's "politically impossible" to pass another."


If it was a colossal failure (Missing by 2% + of the working population qualifies as colossal in my book maybe not yours) How could the only thing wrong with it be public perception????

If they were serious about job creation in the first place maybe they should have spent more then 10% of the 800 billion on those shovel ready jobs! Instead they loaded it with payoffs to the state and other unions like mine (CWA rural broadband) and other Democrat interest groups like Acorn (I believe it was 5 billion for them 1/16th as much as for infrastucture).

The only thing shovel ready about the bill was the BS that the congrescritters and the media were shoveling on our heads.  Its not like there building new highways or replacing bridges with the money they are actually spending.  Its mostly just repaving at ridiculously inflated union salaries.  Where is the economic benefit in that?  Only in a place where ketchup is a vegetable and a hammer costs 600$ could this bill be a problem with the publics perception of it.


BS Inc.'s picture

Even if all the facts remained the same, but the initial forecasts had said that if they didn't do the stimulus, unemployment would go to 11% and we peaked where we actually did at 10% (using the headline UE numbers), getting a second stimulus would not be "politically impossible". That was my main point. I don't know who did the strategizing for how to sell the stimulus but they screwed up by saying unemployment would remain below 8% if it passed.

I do think it was a disaster, don't get me wrong, but it would have been a disaster people would gladly repeat today if they thought it had actually kept unemployment lower than the forecast rather than failing in that goal. That's what I mean by the public's perception. Once people got anchored on that 8% number and we blew past it, selling the stimulus as a success became impossible. Hell, Obama was already talking about this being "the worst crisis since the Great Depression", he should have had his team come up with some crazy unemployment rate like 15% if the stimulus didn't pass. People would be begging him for another stimulus right now.

JackTheTrader's picture

A great post.  One also has to consider the untold number of Americans that are working but at a significantly reduced rate.  I am working full time but have taken a 25% pay cut and have radically changed my spending habits.  I assume I am not alone...

moneymutt's picture

half my coworkers laid off and my salary at 30 percent less than 1 year ago...and I figure I'm the lucky one with a job. From what I see, if you were at right place when music stopped you probably have not gotten a raise in a year, and maybe a few, single digit percent of dead weight colleagues have paid-off but if you were in wrong place, like construction, manufacturing, certain types of retail, print media, advertising, real estate, mortgages etc.. then you are lucky if you still have job, you have had your pay cut or your commissions/small business income is way way down (30-50 percent)..those that are not a firm laying off, or are in a good sector of economy...probably does not seem so bad...but you are mid to late career in a sector that has shrunk a lot and you have been laid off, your prospects are very bleak, depression like, lose your house, lose your retirement etc. Many of the people who are not have much of a hard time are public workers, while a big chunk of people getting hosed are in private sector..leading to public workers being clueless...a Public Defender friend was complaining to me, about the fact that she might not get a raise for two years...I asked how many of her coworkers had been laid off, she said none..I said, do you not know my situation, she said yes...I call the clueless, everyon around her is doing better than her, prosecuters are getting raises after all...arggg

Same goes for the people in bubble land of all bubble lands...DC...I don't care what party they are in, if you are a Fed employee, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist, a politician, you have a good job, benefits, a guarantee pensioned, your wages, not even considering the excellent benefits are probably much higher than private workers...almost none of you have been laid off, no one has had their pay cut. So, they don't freaking get it.

A local Fortune 500 company laid off a whole division of over 100 chemical of the hardest engineering discpline, used to be in hot demand...many of these guys have been out of work for 1 year...and yet some loser in a big company or Fed agency is still making six figures...