Archive for December, 2010

Duration Of Unemployment in the United States 1948 to 2011

December 28, 2010


The latest data for mean and median weeks unemployed has been published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which included the month of June, 2011.

This time, I decided to do the graph on a 3-month moving average rather than on an annual basis.  Even with the moving average, the graph is a little jagged looking, but it is more sensitive to individual time periods.

As usual, if you want a larger image, just click on the graph.

Weeks unemployed002


Although the most often cited unemployment statistic is the unemployment rate (in all it’s versions), the statistic that concerns me much more is the duration that someone is unemployed.

It’s possible to remain unemployed until unemployment insurance runs out, and there have been extensions to that time. My concern is that there is a limit to how many times these extensions can be made, and that the lower standard of living can result in the U.S. becoming a third world country. Production will decline, social insurance of all kinds will decline and general measures of social health, including physical health will decline.

The longer someone is unemployed, the lower the general morale will become. In an upcoming post, I hope to show the symptoms of this declining morale and the results may bring to the country.

So, consider this graph that runs from 1948 to 2010. In the past the only measure was the mean (average) number of weeks unemployed, but in 1967 BLS began recording the median number of weeks unemployed. The median is the number at which half the population is below that rate and half the population is above that rate.