Tally of discouraged workers hits seven-year high in New York state

The percentage of New Yorkers who remain unemployed, who stopped looking for work and who can’t find

The percentage of New Yorkers who remain unemployed, who stopped looking for work and who can’t find full-time jobs — considered the broadest measure of unemployment — hit a seven-year high in 2010, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The percentage, called the “U-6” rate, was 14.8 percent in New York, up from 14.3 percent in 2009, according to a bureau survey released Wednesday. Regional Commissioner Michael Dolfman said the rate was the highest recorded since 2003, the first year statewide annual averages became available. The U-6 rate nationally was 16.7 percent in 2010.

Labor analyst Martin Kohli said the rate “gives you a sense that the recession is more than just unemployment.”

Unemployment is usually measured by the “U-3,” which is the total unemployment as a percentage of the civilian labor force. New York’s U-3 unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in 2010.

U-6 is a broader measure in that it includes two groups that U-3 does not: Marginally attached workers and people who want a full-time job but can only find part-time work, according to the Labor Bureau.

Marginally attached workers have tried to find a job for the last 12 months but failed. This class includes “discouraged workers” who have given up completely on finding jobs because they believe none are available for them, according to the Labor Bureau.

The number of New Yorkers marginally attached to the work force in 2010 increased to 178,000 from 170,000 a year ago, according to the Labor Bureau. The number of discouraged workers in the state totaled 91,800 in 2010, up from 66,300 in 2009, according to the Labor Bureau.

Kevin Jack, an analyst for the state Department of Labor, said New York’s U-6 rate is lower than that of two neighboring states. The U-6 rates in New Jersey and Connecticut were 15.7 and 15.1, respectively. New York’s rate, however, was higher than Pennsylvania’s and Massachusetts’, which were 14.7 and 14.3, respectively.

“It is not a surprise the U-6 rate has crept up over the last year. There have been employers who have gone from full-time to part-time schedules,” Jack said. “Companies may be slow to put workers on full-time until they know things are on a firmer footing.”

Jack also said the U-6 rate may indicate more people are entering the work force, albeit as part-time workers.

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