April Marks 27 Straight Months of 8 Percent or Higher Unemployment

By Matt Cover | May 9, 2011 | 4:01 AM EDT

In this Sept. 29, 2010 photograph, Brian Holbrook reads the Employment Guide while attending a Global Recruiting Solutions job fair in Livonia, Mich. Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the second drop in a row and a hopeful sign the job market could be improving. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, file)

(CNSNews.com) When the unemployment rate rose to nine percent in April, it marked the 27th month in a row where unemployment had been above eight percent, the level President Obama promised it would not hit when the $787 billion stimulus package was enacted.

According to historical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate first rose above eight percent in February 2009 – the first full month of Obama’s presidency – and has not fallen below that level in the 27 months since.

This means that unemployment has remained above President Obama’s target for all but one month of his presidency.

Also, the so-called true unemployment rate rose in April, from 15.7 to 15.9 percent. This measure combines the number of Americans who are unemployed, those who are marginally attached to the workforce, and those who work part-time because they can’t find full-time work. Unemployed Americans are said to be marginally attached if they are unemployed but would still like to work.

This figure is considered a more accurate picture of the unemployment rate because it includes more than just the people who have looked for a job recently– the official unemployment rate – but also the so-called underemployed – those working part time who would rather work full-time.

This number – the true unemployment rate – has also remained high throughout Obama’s presidency, rising to 15 percent in February 2009 and staying above that measure for the next 27 months.

All told, 13.7 million people were out of work this April, approximately one million more than were unemployed in February 2009. The total number of people who were truly unemployed – including the underemployed and marginally attached – was also similar to 2009 figures. This April, approximately 24.8 million people were unemployed, underemployed, or marginally attached. In April 2009 that figure was 24.7 million.

In all, according to BLS 85.7 million people 16 years of age and older were not in the labor force, including those actively looking for work, those willing to work, and those who have given up altogether. In February 2009 there were 80.4 million people out of the labor force.

The numbers of people who told BLS they “want a job now” is also higher than it was when Obama first took office. In February 2009, 5.6 million people who were unemployed told BLS they wanted a job “now.” By April 2011 that figure was 6.5 million.

This figure is interesting because BLS defines people who are “not in the labor force” as those people who are neither employed nor looking for work recently – unemployed – meaning that there are approximately 6.5 million Americans who want a job now but have not been able to find one for over a year.