Average Jobless Now Out of Work 40 Weeks

The unemployed fill out job applications. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Today’s Labor Department report announced 103,000 jobs were added in September, leaving the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent. Here’s a closer look:

  • The average duration of unemployment is now 40.5 weeks, on average, which has more than doubled from three years ago.  That means the average person needs to be able to fund the family budget for a 10-month job search.
  • The headline number is better than expected (expectations were at 60K new jobs). Private sector added some 137K jobs during the month.
  • Since January, the U.S. economy has added 1 million jobs, but is still down 6.6 million since the start of the Great Recession.
  • The unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.1 percent for the past three months — 14 million of our neighbors wanted to work last month, but couldn’t find any work.
  • Broader unemployment rate – the U-6 – which includes folks who are discouraged and those who took part-time work when they wanted full-time, ticked up during September to 16.5 percent (25 million people).
  • Hiring ramped up early in the year, but has slowed considerably since then. Economists believe the Japan quake/tsunami disrupted global supply chains, forcing layoffs and the downturn (thought to be temporary) continued as Congress lit up the world with its debt ceiling debacle and the ensuing S&P downgrade. The question, will the trend start heading back the other direction with holiday hiring.

Sector results:

  • Construction (+26K) mostly in non-residential civil and heavy construction
  • Health Care (+44K) continued its trend of adding jobs – thank you aging baby boomers!
  • IT (+34K) had a healthy boost as striking telecom workers came back from the picket lines.
  • Manufacturing (-13K) was little-changed in September relative to the large size of the sector
  • Retail (+13.6K) also mostly unchanged
  • Temp Help (+19.4K) was positive last month – possible hints of continued growth here.
  • Government (-34K) mostly coming from local government education (-24.4K).
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