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Real Unemployment Number: 17.5%

New figures in Friday's jobs report from the Labor Department indicate that the broadest measure of unemployment—including those unemployed who have looked for work in the last four weeks, discouraged workers, and the "underemployed" (part-time workers looking for full-time work)—has hit its highest recorded rate. More than one in six, or 17.5 percent of workers, are unemployed or underemployed, and in some hard-hit states like California, Arizona, and Michigan, the figure can get as high as 20 percent. The current figure is almost a half-percent higher than the previously recorded high of 17.1 percent in December 1982, even though the official jobless rate remains lower than its peak in the 1980s. Though this measurement isn't available for the Great Depression, it likely would have been higher than 30 percent. During this recession, there were fewer layoffs than expected—around the same number as occurred during the relatively light recession of 2001—but the hiring rate has plummeted, meaning that finding new work is extremely difficult. Most economists believe that the joblessness rate will fall next year, thanks to the work of White House and the Fed.