Unemployment Hits 8.5%

With real unemployment at 15.6%! From the WSJ:

But the Labor Department’s most comprehensive gauge of unemployment surpassed even its early 1980s levels. The government’s broader measure, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification, hit 15.6% in March — a big leap from 14.8% in February.

The comprehensive measure of labor underutilization accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs. The March figure is the highest since the Labor Department started this particular data series in 1994. It’s also above a discontinued and even broader measure that hit 15% in late 1982, when the official unemployment rate was 10.8%. (That data series goes back to the 1970s.)

Almost 1 in 5 people. If 20% of the labor force is not working in an economy built on consumption (and with credit contracting), what do you think is going to happen to that economy?

Geithner and Bernanke are bailing hard (and dangerously, and sometimes (see previous post) disgracefully), but the end is not here just yet. And when they end comes, we’re still going to have big, big problems.

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