Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.7 Percent, Economy Loses 51,000 Jobs

August 1, 2008 (Jobs Byte)

Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.7 Percent, Economy Loses 51,000 Jobs

Jobs Byte by Dean Baker

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2008
Contact: Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

"The index of hours worked is down by 1.1 percent from December."

The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 5.7 percent in July, its highest level since March of 2004. The establishment survey showed a loss of 51,000 jobs overall, with the private sector shedding 76,000 jobs. The private sector has now lost 665,000 jobs since it began shedding jobs last December. The economy as a whole has lost 463,000 jobs since December.

The rise in the unemployment rate was driven by a 0.4 percentage point rise in the unemployment rate for men. The male unemployment rate now stands at 6.1 percent, the highest since November of 2003. The unemployment rate for women remained unchanged at 5.2 percent. The large gap in unemployment rates for men and women is typical for periods around recessions.

Other measures of labor market health also indicate weakness. The number of workers working part-time involuntarily jumped by 291,000. This number is now 1,741,000 above the low for the cycle in April of 2006. Partly as a result of the large rise in the number of involuntary part-time workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure of labor under-utilization, which includes discouraged workers and involuntary part-time workers in addition to those counted as unemployed, rose to 10.3 percent in July. This is only slightly below the 10.4 percent peak in the last downturn, which was reached in September of 2003.