If you pay attention to any financial news medium, the one thing that you tend to hear mentioned frequently is the most current workforce data. While the one number that they tend to use the most is the unemployment rate, when trying to get a wider picture of the state of the American workforce, it’s important to take other indicators into consideration.

For example, using the latest employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation Report, the unemployment rate for the month December, 2008 was 7.2%. All this says there are roughly 11,100,000 Americans without jobs.

While this number in itself is discouraging, when you dig deeper the picture is even more grim.

From the same Employment Situation Report:

…there were 642,000 discouraged workers in December, up by 279,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work specifically because they believe no jobs are available for them.

So when taking this data into consideration, it shows that not only is 7.2% of the population unemployed, but of those, there are 642,000 Americans who want work don’t believe that they could find something. What’s even more troubling is that this number has risen over 75% in the last year alone.

Sadly, the numbers become even scarier as you read into the data on those who are currently employed:

In December, the number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (some-times referred to as involuntary part-time workers) continued to increase, reaching  8.0 million. The number of such workers rose by 3.4 million over the past 12 months.  This category includes persons who would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.

This data shows that even amongst Americans who did have jobs, over 8,000,000 desired full-time hours.

When compiling all of this together, it shows that amongst the American workforce (~154,447,000), roughly 12.8% (~19,742,000) are either unemployed or discouraged by their current employment situation.

I can’t even imagine what things will look like when January’s numbers are available.

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