A recent report on labor utilization by Andrew Sum, Ishwar Khatiwada, and Sheila Palma of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University describes the current labor conditions:
"Since the onset of the Great Recession of 2007-2009, labor market conditions have deteriorated dramatically for U.S. workers in the aggregate. . .The number of employed civilians (16+) in December 2009 was more than 9 million below its estimated level in November 2007, the month before the recession got underway. Total unemployment has more than doubled over the past two years, with double digit unemployment rates prevailing between October and December. At the same time, the number of underemployed; i.e., those persons working part time for economic reasons, has also more than doubled, reaching a new record high of 6.4% of all of the employed in the fourth quarter of 2009.1 In addition, the nation’s civilian labor force has actually shrunk by nearly one million over the past year rather than rising by 1.5 million as earlier projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."
Additionally, the report argues that young workers, minority workers, and blue-collar workers--in manufacturing, construction, service sector--have been disproportionately affected.
I personally believe that professional workers have also been impacted significantly--based on my anecdotal experiences with people in IT who have been very impacted--but these workers usually get substantial packages when they are laid off and therefore are not eligible for unemployment until their severance is gone. This masks educated and professional workers' unemployment.
The Atlantic also has a good article on this subject: