Since the recession began in December 2007 nearly 4.4 million workers have lost their job, with the hardest hit segments of the population being Hispanics and African Americans, which have seen unemployment rates jump to 10.9 and 13.4 percent respectively.
But these number don't tell the entire story - which is why the Bureau of Labor doesn't just track the number of unemployed based on business payrolls - the agency also collects data using what's called a household survey. The way it works is the agency contacts about 60,000 households by phone, collecting employment status data on approximately 120,000 people over the age of 16. According to this research, the number of unemployed increased by 851,000 to 12.5 million last month.
To be considered unemployed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person must by out of work and looking for a job. People who are out of work but not looking for a job are not considered part of the labor force.
But it's not only the swelling ranks of unemployed that's worrisome, the number of underemployed persons - those working part-time when they'd rather be working full-time - rose 787,000 to 8.6 million last month.
And it appears, at least according to the experts, that unemployment will continue to increase throughout this year and into 2010.
"This is not people being on furlough for six week or a month or two - this is permanent job losses, and that is what makes this so difficult," John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia told the New York Times. "That is very telling in terms of how we're really restructuring the overall economy."
You can read the US Bureau of Labor Statistic press release here.