Then unemployment percent does not give a full picture of the of what it means today compared to last year at this time.
Unemployed workers (for over 3 weeks) has increased by 133% since the same period year over year. (March 2009 vs. March 2008).
The ten year chart below really provides a detailed picture of unemployment trends compared year over year.
Looking back future the unemployment picture today has not been this bad since the mid 1970's.
Now lets look at all unemployed (March 2009 vs. March 2008) compared year over year the same period there is over a 60% increase.
The current 8.5% national unemployment rate can be put into better perspective as to the impact on people today compared to the same time last year.
Unemployment is a lagging indicator but it seems at such extremes the recovery in the job market has a long haul ahead.