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Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, hit 10.3% in February – up from 9.8% at the end of January. The U.S. unemployment rate is now essentially the same as the 10.4% at the end of February 2010.
The percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work worsened considerably in February, increasing to 9.6% of the workforce from 9.1% at the end of January. A larger percentage of the U.S. workforce is working part time and wanting full-time work now than was the case a year ago (9.3%).
Underemployment Surges in February
Underemployment, a measure that combines part-time workers wanting full-time work with those who are unemployed, surged in February to 19.9%. This resulted from the combination of a sharp 0.5-point increase since the end of January in the percentage unemployed and a 0.5-point increase in the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work. Underemployment is now higher than it was at this point a year ago (19.7%).
Jobs Situation Deteriorates in February
There is essentially no difference between the unemployment rate now and the one at this time a year ago; January’s rate, in contrast, showed a 1.1-percentage-point year-over-year improvement. This suggests that the real U.S. jobs situation worsened in February. That is, jobs are relatively less available now than in January.
In the broader underemployment picture, the situation is much the same. January’s year-over-year improvement of 1.0 points became -0.2 points in February. In turn, this suggests job market conditions in terms of underemployment also worsened during February.
This deterioration in the jobs situation combined with surging gas prices, budget battles at the federal and state level, and declines on Wall Street tend to explain the recent plunge Gallup recorded in consumer confidence. They also align with the continued “new normal” spending patterns of early 2011. Although Gallup’s Job Creation Index has improved over the past year and showed modest improvement in February, the improvement has not been significant enough to positively affect underemployment and unemployment.
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