The Real Unemployment Rate

When you look a little closer at the government’s unemployment statistics, you will find that the ‘official’ rate is not the same as the ‘real’ rate. Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announces the official unemployment rate, known as U-3, for the prior month.

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics Press Release on Dec. 7, 2012:

“Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 146,000 in November, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent.”

However, the REAL unemployment rate, known as U-6, is actually much higher, because the ‘official’ rate quoted above does not include workers who have quit looking for jobs but desire to be employed, nor does it include part-time workers who desire, but are unable to secure, full-time employment.

The U-6 rate in November was 14.4%, nearly double the official rate. To make matters worse, job gains in 2012 have averaged just 151,000 per month, about the same as 2011, according to John Galvin, the Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The official unemployment rate, the real unemployment rate, and the pace of job creation are obviously all terrible, but let’s take a closer look at the break-down of the unemployed by education level, for November 2012.

  • College Degree or higher: 4% unemployment rate
  • Associate Degree or some college: 6.5% unemployment rate
  • High School Diploma: 8.1% unemployment rate
  • Less than High School Diploma: 12%  unemployment rate

The statistic for high school drop-outs is downright depressing.

The hyper-partisan Fiscal Cliff drama unfolding in Washington does nothing to help our employment situation. It only adds to economic uncertainty and impedes our recovery. Real people are really hurting,  looking for jobs they cannot find and unsure of what comes next. We need bold leadership in Washington, D.C.  to rise above partisan politics and implement policies that will stimulate growth and produce  more jobs.


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