Unemployment Numbers

US Department of Labor announced an unemployment rate of 8.5% for March 2009 last week. There are six different types of unemployment rates that are up on their website and then two numbers for each of these rates — one seasonally adjusted and one which isn’t adjusted. The official number is seasonally adjusted and is called U3.

Here is a brief description of each of the six measures along with their seasonally adjusted rates for March 2009.

1. U-1: Persons unemployed for 15 weeks or longer. This stands at 3.7%

2. U-2: Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs. This stands at 5.4%

3. U-3: Total unemployed. This stands at 8.5%

4. U-4: Total unemployed plus discouraged workers. Discouraged workers are defined as workers who are not looking for job because of a job-market related reason. This stands at 8.9%

5. U-5: Total unemployed plus discouraged plus marginally attached workers. Marginally attached workers are described as workers who don’t have a job and are not looking for one either. They want a job, are available for one and have looked for a job in the past. This stands at 9.8%

6. U -6: Total unemployed plus discouraged plus marginally attached plus total employed part time for economic reason. People employed part time for economic reason are those who want and are available for full time work, but couldn’t find one and had  to settle for a part time job. This stands at 15.6%

All these numbers are a percentage, but they are not a percentage of the total population. The first three are a percentage of the civilian labor force. The next three numbers are a percentage of the civilian labor force plus discouraged, discouraged and marginal, discouraged, marginal and part – time for U4, U5 and U6 respectively.

So, a 8.5% unemployment rate doesn’t imply a 91.5% employment rate. Rather, 8.5% of all those who were part of the labor pool are unemployed.

Heather Boushey writes about the real number:

“The share of the U.S. population with a job is now at 59.9 percent, which is lower than any time since 1985.”

These numbers reveal the worsening economic situation and probably U6 really highlights the full extent of the problems of the economy. While these are US numbers — I suspect that the situation will be same globally. I looked up Indian numbers, but, India doesn’t report unemployment numbers like this.

Do you have links to unemployment numbers of other countries and how do they compare to the numbers here?