Acton Institute Powerblog

Unemployment as Economic-Spiritual Indicator — January 2016 Report

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Unemployment-line-640x245Series Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).

Unemployment rate (+): 4.9 percent

Total number unemployed (+): 7.8 million.

Employment-population ratio (NC): 59.6 percent.

Change by worker groups: adult men (+), adult women (NC), teenagers (NC), blacks (NC), whites (+), Asians (NC), and Hispanics (NC).

Long-term unemployed (NC): 2.1 million and accounted for 26.9 percent of the unemployed.

Civilian labor force participation rate (NC): 62.7 percent.

Persons employed part time for economic reasons (NC): 6.0 million.

Discouraged workers (NC): 623,000.


Unemployment: According to the federal government, to be unemployed a person must (a) be jobless, (b) looking for a job, and (c) available for work.People are considered employed if they have a job (whether temporary, part-time, etc.). People who are neither employed nor unemployed are considered to be not in the labor force.

Unemployment rate: Calculated by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by all individuals currently in the labor force.

Total number unemployed: number of people unemployed in America in the previous month.

Employment-population ratio: measures the proportion of the country’s working-age population (ages 16 to 64) that is employed. This number includes people that have stopped looking for work.

Change by worker groups: whether the number of unemployed in that group increased or decreased.

Long-term unemployed: People who have been unemployed for 12 months or longer.

Civilian labor force participation rate: share of the population 16 years and older working or seeking work.

Persons employed part time for economic reasons: individuals who would have preferred full-time employment but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Discouraged workers: unemployed individuals who have stopped looking for work for one of four reasons:

1. They believe no job is available to them in their line of work or area.
2. They had previously been unable to find work.
3. They lack the necessary schooling, training, skills, or experience.
4. Employers think they are too young or too old, or they face some other type of discrimination.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).