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Donald Marron

Jobs picture improves, but there's still a long way to go

The job market is slowly getting better, but unemployment and underemployment remain very high.

By Guest blogger / January 9, 2012

This chart from donaldmarron.com shows the unemployment and underemployment rates through December 2011. Both rates have improved over the past two years, but Marron argues that growth is still too slow.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Friday’s jobs data confirmed that labor markets are getting better, but slowly. Payrolls expanded by 200,000, the unemployment rate fell again to 8.5%, weekly hours ticked up from 34.3 to 34.4, and hourly earnings rose by 0.2%.

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Donald B. Marron is director of economic policy initiatives at the Urban Institute. He previously served as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and as acting director of the Congressional Budget Office.

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Of course, there is still a long, long way to go. Unemployment and underemployment both remain very high, but they’ve been moving in the right direction. After peaking at 10% in October 2009, the unemployment rate has declined by 1.5 percentage points. The U-6 measure of underemployment, meanwhile, peaked at 17.2% and now stands at 15.2%:

(The U-6 measures includes the officially unemployed, marginally attached workers, and those who are working part-time but want full-time work.)

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on dmarron.com.

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