While all of the media points to an 8.5% unemployment rate in March according to the U-3 labor report data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number you won't hear anybody talking about is the U-6 unemployment number which jumped from 14.8% to 15.6%.
The U-6 unemployment number includes three types of workers that are overlooked by the U-3 number:
1.) Marginally attached workers - people that want a full time job, have looked for one in the past, but are no longer looking for work.
2.) Discouraged workers - those that have given a job market reason for not looking for a job.
3.) Persons employed part time for economic reasons - in other words, somebody that wants a full time job but has had to settle for part time work.
Two statistical differences worth pointing out between the U-3 and the U-6 numbers is that year over year, the U-6 number has increased by 71.4% comparedto the U-3 number which increased 66.7%. So in other words, the U-6 number is rising at a greater percentage than the U-3 number, more workers are falling through the cracks.
The second point of difference between the two data sets is that in March of 2009 compared to March of 2008, 6.5 more people out of every 100 are unemployed according to the U-6 data compared to 3.4 more people for the U-3 data. This is an alarming change in the course of just 12 months.
The reason these numbers are relevant to a housing recovery is that each month the number of Americans that are able to buy a home for the first time is contracting because fewer Americans have jobs. Additionally, the number of Americans who may lose their home to a foreclosure because of a job loss is rising. In order to make up for these demand and supply imbalances, investment real estate needs to be part of a housing recovery plan.