Gallup: Unemployment Went Up—Again—in August

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 1, 2011 | 11:01am EDT

President Barack Obama announced that has named Alan Krueger, left, as his new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers,Aug. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( - The U.S. unemployment rate increased in August, according to the Gallup polling company, which surveys approximately 30,000 people each month about their employment status.

By Gallup’s calculation, unemployment was 8.8 percent at the end of July and rose to 9.1 percent by the end of August. At the end of June, it was 8.7 percent.

Gallup’s unemployment rate differs slightly from the federal government's. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the federal agency that calculates the government’s official unemployment rate), the unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in July. The BLS is scheduled to report its calculation of the national unemployment for August tomorrow.

Gallup is predicting that tomorrow's BLS report will also show that unemployment went up in August—unless so many unemployed people became discouraged during the month and stopped seeking jobs so that they are no longer calculated as part of the national workforce by the federal government, or unless the government makes an "unusual" seasonal adjustment to the unemployment numbers.

“This data further confirm Gallup's mid-month prediction that the August unemployment rate that the government will report Friday will be higher than the 9.1% it reported in July--barring another sizable decline in the U.S. workforce or an unusual seasonal adjustment,” said Gallup’s Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe in his analysis of Gallup’s unemployment numbers.

The federal government generally considers someone to be part of the workforce and unemployed only if they have made "specific efforts to find employment" sometime in the last four weeks. In his analysis of the unemployment situation in the country, Gallup’s Jacobe noted that 200,000 people left the workforce last month.

“Last month, the number of Americans in the labor force declined by nearly 200,000,” Jacobe wrote. “The number of Americans in the labor force is down about 400,000 over the past year.”

Also, the BLS says that its "seasonal adjustment" of the unemployment numbers is "a statistical technique which eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series."

"By eliminating seasonal fluctuations," BLS says of its seasonal adjustment to the unemployment numbers, "the series becomes smoother and it is easier to compare data from month to month."

Gallup also reported today that the number of people working part-time in the United States who are seeking full-time jobs climbed from 9.2 percent in July to 9.4 percent in August.

The percentage of “underemployed” Americans, Gallup said, is now 18.5 percent, up from 18.0 percent in July. The “underemployed” rate combines the percentage of people who are unemployed with the percentage who are working part-time but want to work full-time.

Gallup determines the unemployment rate by interviewing 30,000 people 18 or older over the course of a full month. The federal government determines the unemployment rate by interviewing 60,000 people 16 or older in one week during the middle of each month. Unlike the federal government, Gallup does not “seasonally adjust” its unemployment rate.

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