Unemployment Down to 7.7 Percent, Numbers Still Pretty Awful

Teenage unemployment rate, for example, at 25 percent, nowhere near recent lows


can i volunteer?
Daquella manera / Foter.com

The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since December 2008, at 7.7 percent (which, in turn, was the highest it had been to that point since July 1992).

The number may be a recent low, but it's not exactly good, and the crosstabs are worse:

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites (6.8 percent)  declined in February while the rates for adult men (7.1 percent), adult women  (7.0 percent), teenagers (25.1 percent), blacks (13.8 percent), and Hispanics  (9.6 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

And it's not just the unemployment rate that's slow to recover from the recession, GDP growth is doing pretty poorly too. Despite this, the president is pushing an increase to the minimum wage, which will only hurt the most vulnerable potential members of the workforce, especially teens, as seen in the chart below:

teenage wasteland
Wall Street Journal

More Reason on unemployment

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  1. It’s a hockey stick!

    1. You know what that means. EMERGENCY! Time to create an Employment Credits scheme in which those who want to work must by credits to do so.

  2. One of the great episodes of WTF I’ve had these last few weeks is diehard leftists crowing to me that the Dow indicates recovery. These are people who hate corporations. Since when did the Left care more about corporate profits then it did about unemployment?

    1. When they read their 401K statements?
      If you suddenly can’t buy artisanl mayonnaise and tickts to an off-off Broadway put down of religion, then you might (secretly) cheer for profits.

    2. Same thing. It usually just takes a few questions to prove they don’t know what they’re talking about. This is even better in a group setting.

      Do you even know how many companies are in the DJIA? What companies? And how many companies are in the country? And so what percentage does this represent? And that’s meaningful? What about market cap, or sales? What percentage is that?

      The hopelessness on their faces, it’s priceless.

  3. The number may be a recent low, but it’s not exactly good, and the crosstabs are worse

    just a guess, but media coverage will be exclusively on the number and ignore the crosstabs.

  4. That chart sucks. It’s like someone went through a checklist of ways to make your graphic as misleading as possible.

    1. The minimum wage is populist snake oil doing more harm than good, no question.

      But I agree, the chart is misleading.

        1. 1. Double y-axis charts in general are a bad idea, unless there is some defintive relationship between the units on the two units. If the scales are being selected solely to show correlation, you start getting into a circular argument.
          2. Why is the time series start in 2002?
          3. Why are the dollar amounts in current dollars rather than constant dollars?
          4. Why does neither of the the y-axes show zero?
          5. Even ignoring all the above issues, it’s still ultimately just a correlation is causation argument.

        2. Correlation is not causation. Dollars to donuts you’d find a better r-value for teen unemployment regressed against the general unemployment level. Add that line to your chart.

        3. Unemployment for everyone rose during that same period, for reasons mostly unrelated to minimum wage.

        4. All this chart really demonstrates is that with proper scaling, you can force a correlation between any data series that was roughly stable from 2002 to 2007 and then went up from 2007 to 2010. Heck, the way this chart was put together, I’m betting you could make an equally convincing chart arguing that teen unemployment has been caused by people googling the phrase “big bang theory” too much.

        5. agree on chart. don’t use shitty pop science argumentation methods to prove trivially obvious things like law of supply and demand.

          1. I guess score one against the Journal

            1. heh, I didn’t even notice that this came from WSJ. I thought you made it up. I forgive you already.

  5. If they can’t make a living wage then they’d rather not work at all.

  6. the number of multiple job holders rose significantly, the number of single job holders fell. The labor participation rate declined again. But hey, good news everyone!

    BTW, the error in the NFP figure is +/- 90K.

    1. The LFP rate falling was actually a surprise, because the employment to population ratio went up just slightly. But I suppose that falls in line with more people working two or more jobs.

      Not that it really matters much, considering that we’ve been bouncing along the bottom on the employment-population ratio for the last three years.

  7. Yeah, that’s a terrible chart. Undermines the point that the minimum wage harms the young and poor.

  8. Check the brutal January revision.

      1. It’s in the report. Brutal may be an overstatement, but they were revised down to 119k from 157k.

    1. Its interesting to see the market react with a yawn.

      Either it was priced in, or the market isn’t thrilled because it may signal an end to QE.


  9. the chart is misleading.

    Misleading, or meaningless?

    Most (if not all) of the time, the “official” minimum wage has no meaningful relation to entry level workers’ wages; I’m not sure we can learn anything from that particular chart.

  10. I should amend that claim to “in recent history”.

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