Published March 09, 2012
While the Labor Department reports a surge in private-sector hiring and the nation's unemployment rate holding steady at 8.3 percent, a closer look at the numbers paints a less flattering picture of the country's post-recession growth.
The latest report for February shows lingering economic disparities among different segments of the population. And, as has been the case for decades, the unemployment rate used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not tell the whole story.
Counting only those Americans who are actively looking for work, the jobless rate is 8.3 percent, just like it was in January. But counting those who stopped looking for work within the last year, the rate is 9.8 percent.
And counting all of the above, plus those who settled for part-time jobs, the rate is 14.9 percent.
"Everybody who has friends knows it's higher," Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told Fox News.
Hunter is pushing legislation that would require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to broaden its definition for the unemployment rate. He wants the department to count those who stopped looking for work as well, which would put last month's rate at 9.8 percent.
"We just want to know what the truth is, because we can't make good policy here unless we know what the actual unemployment number is," Hunter told Fox News on Thursday, ahead of the latest labor report release. "It's not 8 percent -- anybody who's out there in the real world knows that. We need real numbers, not D.C. numbers."
The report continues to show subsets like white college grads faring the best in the slow-to-recover economy.
Black workers still face a 14.1 percent jobless rate. The rate for Hispanics is 10.7 percent.
Education level is a huge factor. While those with a bachelor's degree or higher have a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, those with less than a high school diploma are looking at 12.9 percent unemployment.
Youth unemployment, for those between 16 and 19, is 23.8 percent. Black youth unemployment is 34.7 percent.
As a whole, though, the economy showed sustained growth. Employers added 227,000 jobs in February, keeping up one of the best hiring streaks since the recession.
The Obama administration on Friday said the report shows the economy is going in the right direction.
"Today's employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression," Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement. "It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007, including measures to help the sectors that were most severely harmed by the bubble economy that misdirected investment and created too few durable jobs."