National unemployment in the United States jumped to 7.6% last month. By my measure, the employment situation now appears worse than for any year since 1970. The data I have do not go back beyond 1970.
In my effort to avoid distortions introduced by attempts to limit the number of people counted as being part of the labor market, I multiply the average number of hours worked by the number of people the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts as employed to obtain the total number of hours worked in the United States. I then divide this by estimated size of the civilian non-institutionalized population.
I calculate that the average member of the civilian non-institutionalized population worked 19.92 hours in January. This is lower than similar calculations yield for any year since 1970, as far back as I am able to go. My calculations fail to account for changes in institutionalization–people who are incarcerated or in the military. They also fail to reckon for changes in the need for employment; as wages have stagnated, more households have required two incomes to make ends meet.