A better look at the jobless rate and how it compares to the levels hit in past recessions
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I find the unemployment numbers that are reported by the BLS to be completely absurd. They significantly understate the actual rate of unemployment for a variety of reasons, including nonsensical seasonal adjustments and the absurd birth / death model.
Several years ago the BLS responded to some of the criticism that it receives by publishing a series of less publicized statistics that provide a wider look at the jobless rate. This more accurate read on the jobless rate includes people who want full-time work who have been forced to work-part time and those who have completely given up looking for work. The BLS' official data for this wider definition of unemployment only goes back to 1994, but it recently provided David Leonhardt of the New York Times with an estimate of what this data series would look like all the way back to 1970 (see article: The Economy Is Bad, but 1982 Was Worse).
The awesome charts that I linked above show that the jobs situation still is not as bad as it was back in the recession of the early 80s. The current unemployment rate using this wider definition is 12.8%. This is still below the estimated rate of 16.3% that was reached in 1982.
Anyhow, the charts are interesting. I personally expect the jobless rate in the U.S. to eventually exceed the '82 level, but not to be anywhere near the estimated 30% level that was hit during the Great Depression.