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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Calculate the labor force percentage and the unemployment rate
  • Explain hidden unemployment and what it means to be in or out of the labor force
  • Evaluate the collection and interpretation of unemployment data

Unemployment is typically described in newspaper or television reports as a percentage or a rate. A recent report might have said, for example, from August 2009 to November 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate rose from 9.7% to 10.0%, but by June 2010, it had fallen to 9.5% . At a glance, the changes between the percentages may seem small. But remember that the U.S. economy has about 155 million adults who either have jobs or are looking for them. A rise or fall of just 0.1% in the unemployment rate of 155 million potential workers translates into 155,000 people, which is roughly the total population of a city like Syracuse, New York, Brownsville, Texas, or Pasadena, California. Large rises in the unemployment rate mean large numbers of job losses. In November 2009, at the peak of the recession, about 15 million people were out of work. Even with the unemployment rate now at 5.5% as of February 2015, about 8 million people total are out of work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks and reports all data related to unemployment.

Who’s in or out of the labor force?

Should everyone without a job be counted as unemployed? Of course not. Children, for example, should not be counted as unemployed. Surely, the retired should not be counted as unemployed. Many full-time college students have only a part-time job, or no job at all, but it seems inappropriate to count them as suffering the pains of unemployment. Some people are not working because they are rearing children, ill, on vacation, or on parental leave.

The point is that the adult population is not just divided into employed and unemployed. A third group exists: people who do not have a job, and for some reason—retirement, looking after children, taking a voluntary break before a new job—are not interested in having a job, either. It also includes those who do want a job but have quit looking, often due to being discouraged by their inability to find suitable employment. Economists refer to this third group of those who are not working and not looking for work as out of the labor force    or not in the labor force.

The U.S. unemployment rate, which is based on a monthly survey carried out by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, asks a series of questions to divide up the adult population into employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force. To be classified as unemployed, a person must be without a job, currently available to work, and actively looking for work in the previous four weeks. Thus, a person who does not have a job but who is not currently available to work or has not actively looked for work in the last four weeks is counted as out of the labor force.

Employed : currently working for pay

Unemployed : Out of work and actively looking for a job

Out of the labor force : Out of paid work and not actively looking for a job

Questions & Answers

what are positive and normative statements
Alethia Reply
positive is realistic normative is imaginary
give basic idea about India's national income
Maloy Reply
what are the sources of recessions and booms
Zweli Reply
A few years ago, Ama paid $500 to put together a record collection. Today she sold her albums at a garage sale for $100. how does the same affect GDP?
teresa Reply
It saves time its creates more employment
Gold Reply
Scarcity means human wants exceeds the resources needed to satisfy them 1. Limited resources 2. Numerous human wants
Scarcity means shortage!!!
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where you from university of malakand.or where are you.
What is mean by small open economy ?
1. there is specialization of labor 2. skilled labor 3. increase in productivity
Amma Reply
1 to make right choices 2. to handle scarcity 3. make informed decisions
what is the difference between demand and quantity demanded?
Mursal Reply
Demand is affected by other factors while price is held constant Quantity demanded is affected by price while other factors are held constant
discuss advantages and disadvantages of international trade.
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What are the reasons of demand pull inflation
the reasons behind pull inflation are high rate of interest
in other hand when demand of specific commodity is high and its supply is low there will be inflation of price
Thank you
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some hot stuff from Ahmed
what is barter system
twinkel Reply
a system in which goods are exchanged for other goods
Barter system is said to be the process whereby goods are being exchange for goods
a system in which money have not play any role
goods and services are exchanged .. problem is finding equitable or agreeable value for the exchange of the goods or services.. I teach maths privately and love home made cake, I decided 4 home made cakes was worth an hour of private maths 😁
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bater system is a system of trade where by goods are exchange for goods which exist before existence of what we call money
accounts in balance of trade
Kamuyu Reply
What is fiscal policy and intrest rates
Attah Reply
fiscal policy is the use of govt. revenue collection and expenditure to influence the economy.
it is government spending, taxing, regulatory, borrowing powers on the economy.
income and expenditure
Bittu Reply
Income is revenue generated from a business while expenditure is money spent
For short income is gain while expenditure is loss.
what is the difference b/w income per capita and income
What is aggregate
aggregate means total
Macro economics : it is the study of all aggregate of all economic activities of an economic as whole.
Rajat Reply
what is macro economics
Sarah Reply
it is study of all aggregate of all economic activities of an economic as whole.
Macro economics is the aggregate study of national income, investment, price level, changes in economic activities, GDP and economic inflation.
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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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