Unemployment Rate Is Only 4%, But That's 5.6 Million Jobless
By a WALL STREET JOURNAL Staff Reporter
July 25, 2000
The 4% U.S. unemployment rate reflects the circumstances of 5.6 million
people over age 16.
The largest group, by occupation, are 1.5 million people who previously held
technical, sales or administrative support jobs. About 1.2 million of the
unemployed are operators, fabricators and laborers. But the jobless pool
also includes 681,000 managers and professional specialty workers.
Education presents a different breakdown. More than half a million of the
unemployed people 25 or older are college graduates, and close to a million
more have had some college courses. At the other end of the spectrum, about
765,000 lack high-school diplomas. To be counted by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, which compiles the jobless data based on monthly surveys, people
must have looked for a job during the previous four-week period and be
available to work.
About 18% of the unemployed in June were teenagers. Of the adults, women
outnumbered men, 42% compared with 40%. The unemployment rates for blacks
(7.9%) and Hispanics (5.6%) were higher than whites' 3.4%.
Why are they unemployed? About 44% in the June survey had either lost their
jobs or completed temporary jobs, while 37.5% were resuming their search
after being out of the job market for longer than four weeks. More than 6%
were just entering the job market. Interestingly, more than 12% said they
had left jobs voluntarily.
The average duration of unemployment, on a seasonally adjusted basis, is
significantly less now -- 12.4 weeks compared with 14.3 weeks in June 1999.
Still, more than 22% of the jobless had been unemployed for 15 weeks or
more, the June survey showed.
Besides the unemployed, there are about 3.4 million part-time workers who
say they can't find full-time jobs. The historically low jobless rate would
rise to about 7.3% if it included these people and so-called marginally
attached workers who are no longer searching for work on a regular basis,
says Steve Hipple, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.