‘Real’ Unemployment Rate Remains at 14.5 Percent

Matt Cover | May 7, 2012 | 3:35am EDT
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A protester in Muskegon, Michigan last December. (Greg Lindstrom/The Muskegon Chronicle/AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The “real” unemployment rate – a broader, more inclusive measure of the country’s jobless picture than the one usually used – remained unchanged at 14.5 percent in April, as the economy created a paltry 115,000 jobs.

Known formally as the U-6 unemployment rate, this measure includes those formally counted as unemployed, those known to be marginally attached to the workforce, and those who are working part-time because they cannot find full-time work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U-6 unemployment rate remained flat in April at 14.5 percent – meaning some 22.8 million people are either unemployed, have stopped looking for work, or need full-time work but can only find part-time employment.

The U-6 rate is considered to be a more accurate measure of the unemployment picture because it includes a broader sample of those affected by poor economic conditions. By including both unemployed persons and those marginally attached, this measure captures people the BLS would normally count as out of the workforce.

Being marginally attached to the workforce means that a person is not employed and has not looked for a job in the past month – but would accept a job if any were available. The measure best captures people who are available to work but who have given up looking for a job.

The government does not count these people as officially unemployed because they have not looked for work in the past month. They are usually deemed not to be in the labor force at all, and essentially disappear from the government’s survey of unemployment.

By counting people who can only find part-time work and including it in a measure of unemployment BLS is able to track what is known as underemployment – when someone is forced to work part-time because full-time work is unavailable.

This measure provides a deeper look into the relative weakness of the jobs market than that provided by the official unemployment rate because while these people are employed, they are not as productive as they could – and would like to – be.

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