The U.S. unemployment rate jumped in February from 8.3 percent to 9.0 percent, according to Gallup. Gallup’s numbers are highly correlated to the same reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The differences between the two are very slight: Gallup calls people age 18 and up; the BLS calls people age 16 and up. Gallup polls 30,000 people every month; the BLS polls 60,000. Gallup makes those calls continuously throughout the month; the BLS calls during one week in the middle of the month. Gallup’s numbers aren’t seasonally adjusted; the BLS numbers are.
Gallup also reported that those “underemployed”—working part-time but wanting full-time work—also increased, to 19 percent compared to January’s mid-month report of 18.1 percent. Said Gallup:
Regardless of what the government reports [on Friday, March 2nd], Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures show a sharp deterioration in job market conditions since mid-January…[these numbers are] consistent with an economy that continues to struggle with modest growth, particularly as gas prices surge. Further, it suggests that it is premature to assume the condition of the economy will not remain a major issue for Americans both financially and politically in 2012.
With total employment hovering around 130 million since 1999, it is clear that as soon as someone is hired, someone else is laid off. But stepping back, America’s total population has grown from 272 million 12 years ago to over 313 million today, a gain of 41 million people. So employment as a percentage of population has been decreasing, dropping from 67 percent to just over