The stock market got very jittery in advance of this morning's unemployment report, lining up with many economists' expectations that the jobless rate would hold steady at 10% or tick upwards. Then it didn't.
The unemployment rate, which has been hovering around 10% for the past three months, instead ticked down in January, to 9.7%. More meaningfully, broader measures of unemployment also fell. The Bureau of Labor Statistics's "U-4" unemployment rate, which takes into account discouraged workers, fell from 10.5% to 10.3%. And the "U-6" series, which captures people marginally attached to the workforce including those working part-time even though they'd rather be working full-time, dropped from 17.3% to 16.5%. (All those numbers are seasonally adjusted.)
The good news, though, isn't being spread around evenly.
Consider that the unemployment rate for most major worker groups--including adult men, teenagers, blacks and Hispanics--showed little change. The jobless rate really only fell for whites and women. The latter now accounts for 49.9% of the total non-farm workforce, compared to 48.8% at the beginning of the recession.
Very interesting article. Your thoughts.