What Happened to the Unemployed?

According to the numbers released Friday, the number of people unemployed in the U.S. decreased from 12.5 million August to 12.1 million September, and the unemployment rate decreased from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent.

So what happened to these 12.5 million unemployed people from August to September? It turns out that 7.3 million of these were still unemployed in September. That’s well more than half of them.

Another 2.8 million of the August unemployed had left the Labor Force by September. This could be because they just quit looking because they felt it was useless, or because they’d gone back to school. Or they retired, or had children and decided to stay home. Or maybe they won the lottery. Regardless, by September they were neither working nor looking for work.

Finally, 2.4 million – 19 percent – had found jobs by September.

The reason that the number of unemployed only decreased by 400,000 is that, at the same time these 2.4 million were finding jobs, another 1.9 million lost jobs they had, and 2.9 million entered the labor force and started looking for work.

So here’s the summary:

Here’s hoping that number keeps going down.

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