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The nation's official jobless rate is 5.9%, a relatively benign level by historical standards. But economists say that figure paints only a partial and artificially rosy picture of the labor market.

To begin with, there are the 8.7 million unemployed, defined as those without a job who are actively looking for work. But lurking behind that group are 4.9 million part-time workers such as Gluskin who say they would rather be working full time the highest number in a decade.

There are also the 1.5 million people who want a job but didn't look for one in the last month. Nearly a third of this group say they stopped the search because they were too depressed about the prospect of finding anything. Officially termed "discouraged," their number has surged 20% in a year.

Add these three groups together and the jobless total for the U.S. hits 9.7%, up from 9.4% a year ago.

Replies: 2 Confessions

Hi, I'm Maggie and I'm officially discouraged.

Maggie Osterberg @ 12/31/2003 12:17 AM CST


You mean Bush's rising economic tide hasn't lifted your yacht either?

amyc @ 12/31/2003 06:07 AM CST


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