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The  single point in time, monthly headline unemployment rate is a not very useful leading indicator for people in the precision machining business. If anything it confuses people by its jumps and the fact that it indicates both people who found jobs AND people who quit looking in despair.

The following three charts give you a more useful idea about what the unemployment situation in the United States really look like.

14.7% U-6 Total unemployment / underemployment

As we have discussed before, the U-6 rate is the more honest and encompassing indicator of the unemployment situation. It counts the total unemployed plus all marginally attached  workers. (Marginally attached is Economist-speak for “part time employed because I can’t find full-time work that suits me.”

Civilian labor force participation rate- in decline for 12 years

If anyone has anything good to say about what this CIVPART chart indicates, I’d love to hear it. And so would a bunch of recent college graduates  currently unable to pay off their student loans.

While the population grows, the opportunities to work have not. More and more people are increasingly dependent on fewer and fewer people who are employed.

Note: BLS reports that the long term unemployment rate was little changed in September at 4.8 million, accounting for 40.1% of the unemployed.

The one oasis of employment that I know of is in the precision machining industry. Our shops are looking for talented people to operate our computer numerically controlled machine tools. If you can perform high school math and are comfortable with computers, you should consider a career in precision manufacturing.

Check it out here.




EMRATIO  58.7%, seasonally adjusted.

8 thoughts on “September 2012- Real Unemployment Story In Three Charts

  1. Eric Chodl says:

    The initiative and innovation in both computer science and engineering have painfully declined over the last decade, but I fear we have put so much interest in post graduate level careers, we have completely ignored the majority of the US job market which, like you mention, generally requires little more than high school math and basic computer skills. Some interesting numbers to look at are the BLS report histories for job postings per career field and how many are claimed or unclaimed. There is now an annual trend of 2.4 to 2.9 million unclaimed job postings every month and the vast majority are industries that require nothing more than customer service or trade skills. I am a full supporter of community colleges and trade schools, but there is not nearly enough demand to meed the vast numbers of students seeking graduate education.

  2. speakingofprecision says:

    Thank you Eric. Do you have a link to that BLS info? I’d love to run that along with your comments as a separate post here on SpeakingofPrecision

  3. Eric Chodl says: is the direct source for the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. is the Occupational Outlook Handbook which compiles the JOLTS data into an interactive table of specific careers that can be sorted by educational requirements, pay range, and projected demand.

  4. Eric Chodl says:

    I have not been able to relocate the article I read, but a recent report from the BLS stated the the largest national demand due to unclaimed job openings was in the services industry; particularly in schools, restaurants, and hotels. These are not often glamorous jobs, but they are paying jobs, and are generally flexible enough to allow part-time college if one so chooses.

    The national deficit is a mirror image of federal revenue and 58% of federal revenue depends solely on personal income. As a nation, if there is any job in demand, we cannot afford to see it unfilled.

  5. Henry Drake says:

    The problem, and it is a longstanding one, is that our entire national k-12 school system does little to train people for potential employment, and in fact is not designed nor intended to do so. The reasons for this, and what our schools are intended to train people for, if anything, is a matter of argument and a lot longer discussion than the scope of this comment, but I see a long, slow decline in our national competitiveness and a continuation of the imbalance you mention above, unless this issue is addressed and our educational system is retooled to do what it should be doing as its #1 priority: train graduates to get JOBS. Sadly, I see little if any attention being paid to this issue anywhere.

  6. speakingofprecision says:

    Absolutely agree with you Henry. As a culture we have lunged to a my kid deserves to go to college expectation, without any critical thinking about the need for everyone to have college credentials. The demand is for skills. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. If you’d like to expand on it, I’ll be happy to post as a guest post.

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