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Unemployment is Static—But Things Get Worse for Workers

Unemployment was essentially unchanged in Vermont and most other states in February. According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only seven states and Washington, D.C., had monthly changes in their unemployment rates that were statistically significant. Vermont’s wasn’t one of them. Its February rate was 6.6 percent; January’s was 6.7 percent—among the lowest in the country.

Jobs in the Northeast
People out of work in the Northeast face the most competition for jobs in 10 years. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there were more than five unemployed workers for every job opening in January 2010. This is largest ratio of job-seekers to jobs for the region—which includes New England, New York, and Pennsylvania—since the Bureau began compiling these data in December 2000. The previous peak came two years after the 2000 recession, with approximately three unemployed workers per job opening.



Unemployment, Broadly Measured

New annual figures for 2009 show a big jump last year in the broadest measure of unemployment. The so-called U-6 rate for 2009 averaged 11.8 percent; in 2007, just before the start of the recession, it was 6.9 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures different unemployment rates. The most often quoted rate is U-3, which is the number of unemployed people seeking work as a percentage of the total labor force. The U-6 rate includes U-3 plus discouraged workers who have dropped out of the labor force and part-time workers who would prefer to work more. Some economists say U-6 is the true measure of unemployment.

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