Mellody Hobson Makes Sense of Unemployment

More than 5 million people have lost their jobs since the beginning of this recession.

To put that in perspective -- that's more than 76 Tampa Bay stadiums, where the Super Bowl was held. Or more than the populations of Dallas, San Francisco and eight St. Louises combined.

"Good Morning America" financial contributor Mellody Hobson, who is also president of Ariel Investments, helps us make sense of all the numbers.

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Jobs vs. Stocks

The stock market has seen triple-digit rallies this week, and reports on home sales have also been better than expected. So why is the country poised to see hundreds of thousands of more in job losses?

Hobson says it's important to remember that jobs are a lagging economic indicator.

"Let's think of this like a car race," she told "GMA." "We're on a track … and the stock market zooms ahead, which is very normal before an economic recovery. Consumer spending usually keeps pace, but jobs lag behind. That's very, very common, but ultimately they catch up."

It can take four to 12 months after an economic recovery has begun, Hobson said, for job numbers to catch up with other economic indicators.

Do the Market Rallies Signal an Economic Recovery?

Surges in stocks don't always mean the economy is on the upswing.

"It could be what we call a bear market rally," Hobson said. "We had one already earlier this year, where the stock market zoomed ahead and then it petered out and ultimately cratered."

But Hobson said she thinks things may be different now because consumer spending has improved slightly and home sales are up.

"When you take that all together, things are looking like there's a light beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel," she said. "It's not a bright light but a glimmer of a light."

Minority Unemployment

Unemployment among minorities is higher than among whites and above the national average.

The federal government last month reported that unemployment among whites was 7.3 percent but for African-Americans that number was nearly double, while for Hispanics it was nearly 11 percent.

"Recessions disproportionately affect minorities," Hobson said. "These communities have been very hard hit and it's something we should keep in mind."

Where the Jobs Are

A number of laid-off autoworkers have started retraining to become nurses, and with good reason: Hobson said the United States will need 250,000 more nurses in the next seven years to meet the needs of the aging baby boomer population.

Teachers are also in demand, with some 2 million needed in the United States over the next decade, Hobson said.

And then there are the jobs created by the government's economic stimulus plan.

"That stimulus bill is expected to add 100,000 government jobs this year; 150,000 were added last year," Hobson said. "So there are still jobs out there."