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May 2014 Unemployment Report

June 6, 2014


Unemployment Rate:            6.3 percent

Unemployed Americans:         9.8 million


Employment and Unemployment

  • The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent for May 2014, unchanged from last month. It reported an increase of 217,000 nonfarm jobs over last month. Payroll employment for April was revised down from 288,000 to 282,000 jobs created, with the figure for March unchanged at 203,000 new jobs.   
  • The number of unemployed people in May remained at 9.8 million.
  • The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 19.2 million. These are people who are unemployed (9.8 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (2.1 million), or are working part time because they cannot find full time employment (7.3 million).
  • In May, there remained 2.1 million discouraged workers, similar to a year ago. Among these workers are 697,000 who have stopped looking for employment, believing no work is available. This too is little changed from a year ago.    
  • The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 12.2 percent, down 0.1 percent from April. This is the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers.
  • In May, employment grew by 10,000 in manufacturing, 16,500 in transportation and warehousing, 33,600 in health care, and 12,500 in retail trade. Employment fell by 5,100 in electronics and appliance stores and fell by 9,200 in the motion picture and sound recording industries. Employment in federal and state government each fell by 5,000 while employment in local government grew by 11,000. 

Labor Force Participation

  • The labor force participation rate is 62.8 percent, unchanged from last month and remaining near the lowest level in 36 years. Labor force participation is down 0.6 percentage point over the year. 
  • If the labor force participation rate were the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.4 percent.
  • The share of American adults with jobs in May was 58.9 percent, unchanged from last month. This is more than four percentage points below its pre-recession peak. 
  • The number of long-term unemployed (those unemployed for 27 weeks or longer) is 3.4 million Americans. This represents 34.6 percent of unemployed people. During the 1980s, when our country faced a similar recessionary period, the proportion of long-term unemployed never exceeded 27 percent. 
  • Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen recently raised concern with the consistent number of Americans working part time for economic reasons – because they cannot find a full-time position or their hours have been cut back. Today’s report shows this figure to be 7.3 million.
  • The number of unemployed reentrants and new entrants to the workforce declined over the year by 469,000 and 195,000 respectively.
  • According to a paper from the Economic Policy Institute, there are nearly one million “missing” young workers who are neither employed nor actively looking because job opportunities remain scarce. For the next 10-15 years, those in the Class of 2014 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were abundant.