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The real unemployment rate: 15.6%?

April 3, 2009 |  1:28 pm

The official U.S. unemployment rate is bad enough, but another government measure of the ranks of jobless is far worse -- well into double digits.

The Labor Department’s broadest measure of unemployment reached a stunning 15.6% in March, seasonally adjusted. That was up from 14.8% in February and 9.1% in March 2008.

The official rate rose to 8.5% last month from 8.1% in February.

Linedupforwork The official rate includes people who have been actively looking for work.

The government’s broadest measure of the jobless encompasses those who are trying to find a work as well as two other groups:

--- Marginally attached workers, defined as people who currently "are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the recent past." This group includes "discouraged workers," people the government says "have given a job-market-related reason for not looking currently for a job."

--- Persons employed part time for economic reasons, which include people who "want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule."

So if the economy feels worse to you than an 8.5% jobless rate would suggest, it isn’t your imagination.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Job seekers lined up for a career fair in New York this week. Credit: Jeremy Bales / Bloomberg News