Resources for Journalists Covering June 2009 Unemployment Figures

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday that the unemployment rate is now 9.5 percent. That's higher than it's been in 26 years, and it might not be the worst of it. There are many who believe that a 10 percent unemployment rate is inevitable.

Based on what I gathered from the newly released statistics, this is what sticks out to me as story leads:

Joblessness and gender/age
Unemployment for:

  • Men, age 16 and older: 10.6 percent, up from 5.8 percent last year.
  • Women, age 16 and older: 8.3 percent, up from 5.7 percent last year.
  • Teenagers, 16-19 years old: 24 percent, up from 21.9 percent last year.

Joblessness and race
The unemployment rate for:

  • Whites: 8.7 percent, up from 5.1 percent last year.
  • Blacks: 14.7 percent, up from 9.8 percent last year.
  • Hispanics/Latinos: 12.2 percent, up from 7.6 percent last year.
  • (There is no specific data for Asians yet.)

Joblessness and education
The unemployment rate for:

  • Those who didn't graduate high school: 15.5 percent, up from 8 percent last year.
  • Those who don't have a college degree: 9.8 percent, up from 4.9 percent last year.
  • Those who have some college or an associate's degree: 8 percent, up from 4.3 percent last year.
  • Those who have a bachelor's degree or higher: 4.7 percent, up from 2.4 percent last year.

Unemployment breakdown by occupation
The unemployment rate for:

  • Management positions: 5 percent, up from 2.7 percent last year.
  • Service industry jobs: 10.2 percent, up from 6.5 percent last year.
  • Farming, fishing and forestry jobs: 13.2 percent, up from 5.5 percent last year.
  • Installation, repair and maintenance jobs: 8.4 percent, up from 4.4 percent last year.
  • Construction and extraction jobs: 17.8 percent, about twice as high as last year's rate.

Remember, the unemployment rate does not account for those who have quit looking for work. It also does not count those who are "under-employed" -- people who took a job they were over-qualified for just to get a paycheck. The Department of Labor explains:

"About 2.2 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attached to the labor force in June, 618,000 more than a year earlier. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the past 12 months.

"They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 793,000 discouraged workers in June, up by 373,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them."

Additional resources

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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