updated 9/4/2009 4:44:53 PM ET 2009-09-04T20:44:53

New unemployment data show why it will take years for the labor market to recover from one of its fastest and deepest declines since World War II, even if an economic recovery is around the corner.

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The Department of Labor report released Friday showed job cuts in August were lower than they've been in recent months. But a deeper look at the data shows why it will take millions of new jobs to dig American workers out of this recession's deep pit.

Unemployment for teenagers stands at nearly 26 percent. More than 758,000 workers are so discouraged they quit looking for jobs altogether, by far the biggest such number since the Department of Labor started tracking it in 1994. Damage continues to mount in the manufacturing, financial and construction sectors.

In all, some 14.9 million people are out of work and looking for a job.

This means it will take several quarters of economic growth to put the unemployed back to work. About 125,000 jobs need to be created each month just to keep up with the natural increase in the number of job seekers from immigration and population growth. Even if that number is surpassed in coming months, it will take a very long time to make up all the lost ground.

The data show that unemployment is deep, widespread and lasting longer than usual. Here are some details, by the numbers.

Worst downturn in decades
9.7 percent: The current unemployment rate, up from 4.7 percent when the recession began in December 2007.

10 percent: The rate expected to be hit by the end of this year.

2014: The year Moody's Economy.com predicts the unemployment rate will finally dip toward 5 percent, considered to be the "normal" level.

7.4 million: The number of jobs lost since the recession started.

A broader problem
24.9 weeks: The average duration that unemployed workers are out of a job, the highest level since the Department of Labor started tracking the figure in 1948.

4.98 million: The number of people unemployed longer than 27 weeks, also the highest level since World War II, although the growth in the size of the labor market over time contributes to that.

9 million: The number of workers forced to take part-time jobs who would rather work more hours.

33.1: Average hours in the workweek, near this summer's record low of 33 hours.

Different groups, different fortunes
25.5 percent: The unemployment rate among teenagers, the highest level on record since 1948, breaking the previous high of 24.1 set in 1982.

10.1 percent: The unemployment rate for men over age 20.

7.6 percent: The unemployment rate for women over age 20.

8.9 percent: The unemployment rate for white workers over 16 years old, short of the record 9.7 percent from 1982.

15.1 percent: The unemployment rate for black workers over 16 years old, far short of the record 21.2 percent from 1983.

13 percent: The unemployment rate for Latino workers over 16 years old, short of the record 15.7 hit in 1982.

After the bubble
1.4 million: The number of construction jobs lost since December 2007 as the housing crisis intensified.

65,000: The number of construction jobs lost in August, mostly in nonresidential and heavy construction.

537,000: The number of financial sector jobs lost since the recession began, including 28,000 shed in August.

829,000: The number of retail jobs lost since the recession started and consumers pulled back spending, including 10,000 lost in August.

Silver lining
544,000: The net increase in health care jobs since the recession began, with 28,000 being added in August.

2.6 percent: The rise in average hourly earnings over the last year, with a boost of 6 cents in August bringing the average to $18.65.

0.8 percent: The smaller increase in overall weekly earnings over the last year, which was held back by workers getting fewer hours.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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