About That Unemployment Rate…

Why don’t things seem better- the news says the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 per cent?

This line only shows the folks counted in U-3...


The unemployment rate they talk about in the press is the U-3 rate. The unemployment rate that the people in the country are really feeling is called the U-6 rate.

The U-6 rate includes the unemployed, the marginally attached, and persons who are actually employed but who work fewer hours than they would like.

While that  8% rate may sound like a real improvement,  the fact is that in human terms, not filtered through the  rose-colored lens of policy wonks or reporter-speak, the real rate is U-6 or almost double the “official” U-3 rate.

Critical thinking is about recognizing and challenging assumptions. What assumptions are built into the people talking on TV about unemployment?

As this graph shows, one assumption is that they aren’t even talking about darn near half the people who are “unemployed, marginally attached, and persons  who are actually employed but  who work fewer hours than they would like.”

How about that unemployment rate?


5 Responses to About That Unemployment Rate…

  1. AMTech says:

    To truly see the relation of these figures we will need to have the U6 numbers for at least the past decade.

  2. Jeff says:

    The unemployment rate in my opinion has never been real.
    Some people benifets may have ran out and are still unemployed. They are off the list of being employee now.Some States reduce the unemployement benifets more than the Federal Goverment to reduce their unemployement rate.In my opinion to make their State look more attractive.

    • speakingofprecision says:

      I was certain it was real when I was laid off! I agree with you though about the “flexibility” of what that number actually means, and how it is (ab)used by Officialdom to suit their needs rather than as an objective measure.

      In math class, Numbers like this were called “Imaginary Numbers.” 🙂

  3. […] That’s what happens- I guess- when you look at U-3 instead of U-6 Unemployment figures. […]

  4. […] we have discussed before, the U-6 rate is the more honest and encompassing indicator of the unemployment situation. It counts the […]

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