Facts about Unemployment

FACT: Based on historic employment levels, economists say 5% is the "normal" unemployment rate (Associated Press, 7/29/10).

FACT: Even during the depths of the recession (2008 and 2009), only 15% of unemployed workers across the country said they were willing to relocate to another city to find work (Right Management survey, 2/24/10).

FACT: Unemployment tends to be worse for lower wage earners. At the height of the economic recession of 2007 – 2009, only 3% of individuals earning more than $150,000 a year experienced unemployment (a figure so low that economists consider it "full employment"), while workers whose wages rank in the bottom 10% of the earnings scale experienced 31% unemployment. Those in the middle decile experienced 9% unemployment (Wall St. Journal, 2/13/10).

FACT: The unemployment gap between men and women during the economic recession of 2007 – 2009 was so great that some economists took to calling it the "man-cession." A recession has never before had such a disproportionate effect on one gender (Wall St. Journal, 2/12/10).

FACT: In 2009, 9% of job-seekers chose to start their own businesses. In 2008, it was 5% (Challenger, Gray and Christmas survey; Wall St. Journal, 12/22/09).

FACT: "Long-term unemployed" are, according to economists, people who have been out of work for 27 weeks (about six months) or more (Wall St. Journal, 9/25/09).

FACT: "The probability that a laid-off worker will find a job grows smaller the longer people have been out of work. Someone unemployed for six months is much less likely to find a job in the next month than someone unemployed for one month" (according to studies in the 1980s by economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard University and Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago; Wall St. Journal, 9/25/09).

FACT: "The wages that laid-off workers can expect when they do find a new job tend to be lower the longer they are without work. Long-unemployed people who do find jobs often spend years working to get back to their old wages" (according to studies in the 1980s by economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard University and Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago; Wall St. Journal, 9/25/09).

FACT: 40% of employers say they expect to hire back some of the workers they laid off in the recession (as full-time employees, consultants or freelancers). About half of financial companies surveyed said they planned to rehire workers, and 47% of manufacturing companies said the same (OI Partners survey; U.S. News and World Report, 9/17/09).

FACT: About 40% of employees offered outplacement assistance don't show up; some ask for cash instead (Wall St. Journal, 8/20/09).

FACT: Low-wage workers are almost 2 times as likely to be out of work as higher-wage workers (2007 U.S. Government Accountability Office report; Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/19/09).

FACT: "Low-wage workers (which includes part-time and seasonal workers) are about half as likely to receive unemployment benefits as high-wage workers. Across the United States, only 37 % of workers who lose their jobs typically collect unemployment benefits, according to U.S. Labor Department statistics. Often, this is because they didn't earn enough while working, or their work history was not continuous enough to make them eligible under state employment laws" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/19/09).

FACT: Since 1992, the jobless rate for college graduates has hovered near 2%. By contrast, the jobless rate for high-school dropouts rose as high as 12.2% in 1992 (Associated Press, 1/18/09).

FACT: There are currently 3.3 unemployed individuals available for job opening (Wall St. Journal, 12/29/08).

FACT: "Research suggests that workers let go during a recession face job hunts that last at least four months, and when they do find work, they accept a 20% to 30% pay cut, on average" (Wall St. Journal, 12/29/08).

FACT: "Between 1997 and 2007, the average U.S. unemployment rate was 4.93%. North Dakota had the lowest average rate, with 3.2%, while the District of Columbia had the highest, with 6.85%" (Portfolio magazine, 9/07).

FACT: "Because the unemployment rates is based on a relatively small sample of the population (monthly interviews of 55,000 households), it has a significant margin of error. For any given month, the number needs to move by more than 0.2 percentage points for statisticians to be sure that it even moved at all" (Portfolio magazine, 9/07).

FACT: "The Employment Situation Summary — which includes the unemployment rate — is released on the first Friday of every month. To compile it, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics conduct monthly interviews of approximately 55,000 households. Initial interviews take place in-person and last about 20 minutes" (Conde Nast Portfolio magazine, 9/07).

FACT: "Counting the unemployed employs roughly 2,000 people, all of whom work for the Census Bureau. A small percentage are based at call centers in Tucson; Hagerstown, Maryland; and Jeffersonville, Indiana. The rest conduct in-person interviews in the field. Last year, the Bureau of labor Statistics spent $40 million conducting the survey" (Conde Nast Portfolio magazine, 9/07).

FACT: To be considered unemployed, a person must be at least 16, available for work, and actively seeking a job (Conde Nast Portfolio magazine, 9/07).

FACT: "Because the unemployment rate is based on a relatively small sample of the population, it has a significant margin of error" (Conde Nast Portfolio magazine, 9/07).

FACT: "At 1,000 large companies, annual turnover of executives listed in proxy statements between 2002 and 2004 was 17%. When a new CEO was promoted from within, executive turnover rose to 22%. When a new CEO was hired from outside, executive turnover rose to 33%. "Involuntary turnover" was 7.5% typically. When a CEO was promoted from within, involuntary turnover increased to 12.5%. When new CEO from outside, involuntary turnover increased to 26%." (Wall St. Journal study, 4/24/07.)


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To see more employment facts, visit the main Crown Resume Facts page.