Why Higher Unemployment Is a Good Thing


The Bureau of Labor released new unemployment numbers today and at first blush, they sound depressing and a bit contradictory.

The unemployment rate increased to 9.9% last month from 9.7% the previous month. That is still not as bad as the 10.1% unemployment rate we reached in October, but it does raise questions about why the numbers are going back up. To make matters more confusing, the Bureau of Labor announced that the economy had actually added 290,000 new jobs last, which is more than previously expected and is a strong indicator that the job market is actually improving, despite the unemployment numbers.

According to The Washington Post, the reason for this disparity is that 800,000 workers decided to re-enter the job market, which is a good thing, but many of them have yet to find jobs. “So today's takeaway: Don't focus on the increase of the rate from 9.7 to 9.9 percent. That's arguably a good sign in this instance. Focus on the fact that the economy added 290,000 new jobs last month,” the Post reports. On top of that, it turns out that 230,000 new jobs were added in March and 39,000 were added in February, both of which were originally reported as being much less.

Of those 290,000 new jobs, 66,000 were created by the federal government and 44,000 came from the manufacturing industry. The latter is especially positive since the manufacturing industry has suffered during the recession.

Obviously, there is still much to be worried about. As BusinessInsider notes, if we take into account the number of Americans who are unemployed but have given up looking for work, the unemployment rate actually jumps to 17.1%. And, according to the Huffington Post, there are now 6.7 million people (nearly half of all unemployed Americans) who have been out of work for six months or longer.

Still, it’s important that Americans find the silver lining when they can, especially since the experts estimate we will likely be forced to contend with near double-digit unemployment for most of the year.

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