Lisa Chow is the economics reporter at WNYC. She tries to explore in her stories surprising aspects of New York’s many economies—in plain view or hidden, in neighborhoods or sectors.
While New York's official unemployment rate averaged 8.5 percent last year, new figures from the U.S. Labor Department show the rate would almost double if it included people working part-time because they couldn't find a full-time job or people who stopped looking all together because they were discouraged about finding a job.
Add those to the jobless numbers, and the total rate increases to nearly 15 percent. That's the highest recorded rate since 2003, when statewide annual averages first became available. New York City's rate was slightly higher at 15.6 percent.
The fastest growing category was discouraged workers: Their numbers grew 40 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Nationally, 16.7 percent of the labor force in 2010 was unemployed, working part-time because of economic reasons, or what the Labor Department calls "marginally attached to the labor force," a category that includes discouraged workers.
Nevada, California and Michigan had the highest rates last year — at 23.6, 22.1 and 21 percent, respectively. On the flip side, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota had the lowest rates at 7.4, 8.6 and 9.7 percent, respectively.