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Jobless rate: only half the story

The national unemployment rate rose slightly in February to 8.8 percent from January's 8.5 percent. But other statistics from the government's latest report provided a more meaningful insight into the job situation, says Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend.

The figures for parts of the country particularly hard hit by the recession climbed far above Reagan administration estimates of an 8.9 percent jobless rate for 1982. The Michigan economy, for example, is staggering with 16.1 percent unemployment, the highest state figure in the country. Joblessness in the Sheffield, Ala., area is about 20 percent after two big plant shutdowns.

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Nationally, one in every 10 factory workers is reported jobless.

The unemployment rate for adult men, the most closely watched figure, now is up to 7.6 percent. The figure for black adult men jumped in February from the previous month's 16.8 percent to 17.3 percent.

Total employment failed to increase for the third consecutive month, remaining at about 99.6 million. This meant that only 57.3 percent of all Americans held jobs.

White House spokesman David Gergen said the recession ''seems to be bottoming out'' and ''employment stabilizing after large declines in previous months.''


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