Real Unemployment Rate: U3 Drops to 7.7%, U6 Drops to 14.4% In November Jobs Report


The United States unemployment figures for November were released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning, indicating that last month's (U3) unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% from 7.9%, as the country added 146,000 non-farm private sector jobs. This number reflects the percentage of the total workforce who are unemployed and are actively looking for work.

That figure does not include unemployed members of the workforce who are not actively looking for work; nor does it factor in workers with part-time jobs who are seeking full-time employment. When these workers are included, the (U-6) un/underemployment rate for November was 14.4%, down from 14.6% in October.

Nonetheless, Friday's jobs numbers may indicate a continued sluggish recovery, especially in light of a recent Gallup poll. According to that survey, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.8% for the month of November, up from 7.0% for October. The seasonally-adjusted rate for last month was 8.3%:

Meanwhile, Gallup's non-seasonally adjusted underemployment rate, which closely mirrors the BLS U6, came in at a whopping 17.1% in November, up from 15.9% in October.

On Wednesday, an ADP report estimated that the number of non-farm private sector jobs added in November was 118,000, which was below expectations of 129,000. In its report, ADP cited the effects Hurricane Sandy, which hit the mid-Atlantic region hard in late October and early November. That region employs 14% of the nation's workforce, and not unexpectedly, unemployment claims in the area jumped, but have since receded with the floodwaters. Nationally, first-time unemployment claims came in at 370,000 on Thursday, slightly below expectations of 378,000. In the previous week, there were 393,000 first-time claims filed. 

The Gallup poll also indicated that the unemployment rate in November had decreased from the previous month among African Americans (to 12.4% from 14.3%), and increased among Latinos (to 10.6% from 10%).