Digging into the ‘real' unemployment rate
Ph.D. May 4, 2012
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects employment and unemployment statistics in two major ways. The first is the Current Population Survey, which is a household survey performed each month. These are the numbers which I use in my Northern Colorado economic reporting and are by place of residence (households). The other is the Current Employment Statistics (establishments-place of work) and are reported by employers each month to state agencies and forwarded to the BLS. The latter does not include self-employed persons and most agricultural workers.
The BLS also reports six different series of employment/unemployment statistics. U-3 is the statistic routinely reported by the news media. In March, the U-3 unemployment rate in the U.S. was 8.2 percent. The U-6 rate, however, was 14.8 percent.
The U-6 rate of unemployment is the total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part-time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force. Persons marginally attached to the labor force