April 6, 2009
Joseph Ramelo gave up searching for work in January to return to school, two months after he was laid off as a San Francisco election clerk. Antonio Poe is struggling to get by doing part-time landscaping in Greensboro, North Carolina, after losing his job as an electrician.
[efoods]While such workers are feeling real pain from the recession that began in December 2007, theyâ€™re not represented in the 8.5 percent unemployment rate the Labor Department reported last week. They are part of a broader group that includes those who want a job but have stopped looking for work and those who want full-time positions but have to settle for part-time employment.
A measure of underemployment that counts those people has almost doubled over the past two years, to 15.6 percent, providing a more complete gauge of the labor marketâ€™s deterioration. Along with an historic drop in the percentage of the population who are working, and record numbers of long-term unemployed, the figures point to a permanent shift in employment patterns, said former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.