Friday, January 24, 2014

UPDATE: What's the REAL Unemployment Rate?

December 2013 Unemployment Rates, US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Did you know there are actually SIX unemployment rates?  There are.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates 6 unemployment rates (U1-U6) each month and adjusts them for seasonal employment.  The official unemployment rate is U3 and in December 2013 that rate was 6.7% of the civilian labor force were unemployed.  That's not the whole picture though:

U1 is the percentage of people unemployed for 15 weeks or longer
U2 is the percentage of people who have lost a job or completed a temporary job
U3 is the official unemployment rate and is the percentage of people who are unemployed and have actively looked for work within the past 4 weeks
U4 is the U3 figure combined with discouraged workers who have given up looking for a job until the job market improves
U5 is U4 plus marginally attached workers who are able to work and would like a job but have not looked for a job recently
U6 is U5 plus part-time workers who cannot find a full-time job

So, while the official unemployment rate is down to 6.7% in December 2013, this figure only includes people who have looked for work in the past 4 weeks and who are not employed part-time.

At 6.7%, that means that 1 in 15 Americans cannot find a job.  Using U6, 1 in 8 Americans in the labor force cannot find a full-time job.  1.4% of the labor force have given up looking for a job right now, and 5% of workers are stuck in a part-time job unable to find full-time work.

UPDATE:  My friend Michael points out that these rates are for the civilian labor force and thus do not include American military workers and many/most Federal workers.

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