U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, rose to 8.5% in mid-November from 8.3% in mid-October but is down from 9.2% year-over-year; underemployment of 9.7% is up from 8.5% a year ago

PRINCETON, New Jersey , November 18, 2011 () – Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is 8.5% in mid-November -- up from 8.3% in mid-October, but down significantly from 9.2% in mid-November 2010. Gallup's mid-month unemployment measure suggests the government is likely to report no change in its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2011.

An additional 9.7% of U.S. employees work part time but want full-time work, up from 9.2% in mid-October. The current reading is significantly higher than the 8.5% of mid-November 2010.

Underemployment, a measure that combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed with the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work, is 18.2% -- up from 17.5% a month ago. Underemployment stood at 17.7% in mid-November 2010.

Implications

Gallup's analysis suggests that the deterioration in November unemployment is essentially the result of seasonal factors. In turn, this implies the government is likely to report on the first Friday in December that there was no change in the U.S. unemployment rate for November.

Gallup's November unemployment data are generally consistent with the modest improvement seen in the U.S. economy during recent months, with October sales being better than expected and manufacturing appearing somewhat stronger than anticipated. The unemployment data are also consistent with Gallup's slightly improved spending data and consumer Christmas spending intentions. The modest recent improvement in the U.S. economy seems strong enough to keep the unemployment situation from deteriorating further, but not powerful enough to create the jobs needed to lower the unemployment rate.

Possibly further reflecting the tenuous nature of the current economic situation, Gallup's underemployment data suggest that today's employers are increasingly relying on part-time employees who would prefer to work full time. A year-over-year comparison shows that while the unemployment rate is down 0.7 percentage points, this is more than offset by the increase of 1.2 points in the percentage of those working part time who want full-time work. The unemployment rate appears to have improved over the past year largely because Americans are taking part-time work when they can't get full-time jobs.

Of course, a part-time job is better than no job and, in the past, part-time jobs often led to full-time employment. However, in the current economic environment, part-time hiring may reflect employers' caution more than anything else and could presage a sharp increase in unemployment once the holiday season ends and companies go back to minimizing their workforces for the winter.

Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:

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