Despite the headliner 9.7% (U-3) USA Unemployment Rate in February, the REAL Unemployment Rate is 16.8% when calculated to include discouraged/marginally attached workers, and economically necessitated part-timers. That's up from 16.5 in January & down substantially from the recent high of 17.4% set October 2009.
This latter Bureau of Labour metric (U-6) was s post Depression high of 19.3% in 1982. The all time record of 24.9% was set in 1933 during the Great Depression. By 1936 it had corrected to 14.9%, but in a 1939 premature attempt to balance the Budget, suffered a relapse to 17.9%.
This jobless recovery was foretold by TrendLines Research in Autumn 2008. Now finally, we are over the hump and can see light at the end of the tunnel. The Inventory/Sales ratio is much improved. As some sectors move to replenish, there will be a visible increase in Aggregate Weekly Hours ... then overtime ... and finally re-hiring. It should be remembered that Unemployment rose for 19 months after NBER declared the end of the 2001 Recession. It took six long years to return to pre-contraction levels.
As folks come back into the labour market, the statistical universe will expand, and U-3 will not reflect the better times. OTOH, the Real Unemployment Rate (U-6) has indeed reverted to secular decline mode ... a situation that should last 'til gasoline touches $3.25/gallon ($92/barrel crude oil) in 2011Q3 if Congress does not address its structural Deficits. At that juncture, New Car & Light Truck Sales are likely to collapse again.
U-6 definition: Marginally attached workers are persons who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the recent past. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not looking currently for a job. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.
Disclosure: (no positions)