By Shannon Jones
1 July 2020
According to newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, 47.2 percent of working-age Americans were without work in May, the highest level recorded since the end of World War II.
The numbers are based on the BLS employment-population ratio, which states the proportion of the total labor force who are actually working. It is a more accurate measure of joblessness than the monthly unemployment report, which counts only those actively seeking work.
At the end of May the employment-population ratio stood at 52.8 percent; it stood at 61.2 percent at the start of the year. The employment-population ratio reached a postwar high of nearly 65 percent in 2000.
Citing Torsten Slok, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank, CNBC said it would take the creation of an additional 30 million jobs to bring the employment-population ratio back to January levels.
The report comes ahead of the release of the official jobless statistics for June later this week. They are expected to reflect a marginal decline in the official unemployment rate from 13.3 percent in May to 12.4 percent in June. It is not known if the June figures will correct the previous undercount in the numbers of May and April, when millions of workers were incorrectly classified. This resulted in the official jobless percentages being about 3 percent lower in May and 5 percent lower in June.
A pregnant woman waits in line for groceries with hundreds during a food pantry, sponsored by Healthy Waltham for those in need due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, at St. Mary’s Church in Waltham, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The official unemployment rate remains at Great Depression levels in a number of states. Nevada, hard hit by the shutdown of the gaming industry, had an unemployment rate of 25.3 percent in May compared to 4.0 percent one year earlier. Hawaii stood at 22.6 percent in May compared to just 2.7 percent one year earlier, while Michigan registered 21.2 percent compared to 4.2 percent in May 2019. In California and Massachusetts, unemployment stood at 16.3 percent in May […]