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Quote of the Day

"A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune's inequality exhibits under this sun."

- Thomas Carlyle

What Happens to the Unemployed?
(April 9, 2009) We know how much we love the DOL stats around here - so here is a review from Catherine Rampell economics editor at

What Happens to the Unemployed?
The "labor force status flows" statistics don't get a lot of attention, but they show some interesting information on what happens to the unemployed from month to month. Did they stay unemployed? Did they find a new job? Did they give up and drop out of the labor force? Did they die?

Since today it's all-labor-charts-all-the-time, I decided to take a peek at this undeservingly neglected report.

Of those who were unemployed in February, 17 percent found work. But a vast majority - 64 percent - remained unemployed, and another 19 percent dropped out of the labor force altogether. (The category "other outflows" refers to estimated deaths and adjustments to estimated population totals; I've included this category in the charts because it's present in the official report, although the levels of these outflows are negligible for the unemployed.)

What Happen to the Unemployed?
[Apture Chart]

There were some differences for men and women. Read more.

How many people are quitting their jobs?
Earlier we posted a F.A.Q. on the jobs report, which is intended to help you put the numbers in the report into better context. We also asked readers to send in other questions they have about the job market.

Here's one interesting question we received. It's from a reader who is contemplating leaving his job:

How many people are quitting their jobs per month? Excluding those who leave for retirement/medical purposes.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does keep data on how many people are voluntarily leaving their jobs, although there is a bit of a time lag and the series goes back to only 2000. Still, even with these limitations, you can still get a sense of how fearful people are about quitting:

Non Farm Quit Rates
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, JOLTS

This rate represents the number of quits as a percent of total employment. For more information on how many people are quitting, being laid off, or being hired in various industries, check out the Labor Department's JOLTS report: Read more . . .

By Catherine Rampell, economics editor at

Colleen Gildea

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