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Different Strokes

Different Strokes

| January 09, 2017
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Every month on “Jobs Friday”, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a slew of data on the labor market.  While the so-called “U-3” rate is the headline unemployment rate everyone talks about, other important employment information lies deeper in the reports.  One of those figures analysts look for is sometimes called “the real unemployment rate”, known as the U-6 rate.  The headline U-3 rate doesn’t include a number of employment situations, for example those unwillingly underemployed and those no longer looking for work.  The U-6 rate is defined as all unemployed, plus “persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the labor force.”  While the U-6 has seen significant improvement the last few months, reaching 9.2% in December, it still remains stubbornly higher than before the recession.  The last time the U-6 was below 9.2% was March 2008.  This chart, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics via CNBC.com, illustrates the wide variation among these various measures of unemployment.

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