Not A Pretty Picture

By: - October 15, 2008 3:22 pm

The unemployment rate is the main measure of labor under-utilization used in the United States. This statistic estimates the share of the civilian labor force that is jobless and actively seeking work. Last month, 9.5 million Americans — 6.9 percent of the labor force — were officially unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unfortunately, the unemployment measure is a flawed measure that understates slack in the labor. A more telling measures is the underemployment rate . This broader measure counts not just people who are unemployed, but also those who work part-time because they can’t find full-time posts and individuals who want a job but no longer are actively looking.

Last month, some 11 percent of the labor force — 17.1 million people in total — were either unemployed, marginally attached to the workforce or working part-time on an involuntary basis. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the national underemployment rate is at its highest level in more than 14 years — a trend that points to growing hardships for workers, their families and communities. The exact breakdown of the underemployed population is presented below.

(Source: Economic Policy Institute)

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