Econ discussion

Another important measure of how an economy is performing is the unemployment rate.?? But there is more to the unemployment rate than just the headline rate reported on the news.

In particular we are going to look at the U3 rate (the Headline rate), the U6 rate and the labor force participation rate.

Go to the??Bureau of Labor Statistics

On their home page from the menu on the right hand side of the page “Latest Numbers” click on Unemployment Rate.?? On the next page click on “Employment Situation Summary”.?? The April 2017??report is available.?? Read the report.?? Then using Table A-15 linked from the bottom of the report find:

The U3 rate and the U6 rate.

Find the labor force participation rate in the main body of the report. ??While it was basically unchanged in 2016, go to the BLS page at https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000??to see the rate for??the past 10 years.

What are the differences among these measures??? Note the percentages of each, what each measure includes and then express your views on what factors may be causing the U6 rate to be roughly twice the U3 rate.

Also, what may be causing the decline in the labor participation rate over the past 10 years? ??If you extend the chart you will see that the rate is the lowest it has been since about 1978.??

Is the headline unemployment rate used by most news reports misleading?

For your information, here is a summary of the six unemployment measures.

  • U-1, persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force;
  • U-2, job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force;
  • U-3, total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (this is the definition used for the official unemployment rate);
  • U-4, total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers;
  • U-5, total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other marginally attached workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers; and
  • U-6, total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.
Scroll to Top