The new unemployment figures were released yesterday. The news isn't good. My fellow Atlantic correspondent, Conor Clarke, has already put the new figures in context and points to David Leonhardt's perspective. The AP's Christopher Rugaber has a particularly nice take.
The past year has put more than six million workers on the unemployment roles. 6.4 million Americans "want a job," and the total ranks of the unemployed have swelled to more than 15 million people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 9.7 percent of Americans over age 16 are out of work, up from 5.7 percent last year. And the broader U-6 rate of unemployment which includes "marginally attached workers" inched higher to 16.5 percent in June up from 10.1 percent last year.
The crisis has wiped out nearly a decade of jobs gains. Rugaber cites a startling statistic: There are currently 131.7 million American jobs, slightly less than the 131.9 million figure for May 2000. "It's the first time since the Great Depression that a recession has wiped out all the jobs created during the previous business cycle," writes Rugaber,citing Economic Policy Institute economist, Heidi Shierholz. Business Week's, Michael Mandel shows that private sector job creation was anemic over the boom - dubbing it "a lost decade for jobs" - noting that virtually all job creation came from government, education, and health care.