Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do you fit in one of these unemployment categories?

If you're a jobless graduate then you would clearly be classified as unemployed. But, what if you're underemployed, that is, working only part-time but wanting full-time work? Or, what if you're working full-time but still underemployed (not being paid what you're worth)? Are you being counted in the labor and unemployment statistics?

Well, the Bureau of Labor Statisticians has been working hard to encompass all categories of unemployed persons in order to get a better picture of the unemployment rate. Below I've outlined some key points from a table titled "Alternative measures of of labor underutilization" by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment categories are labeled as U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4, U-5, and U-6 and you can see details of each category and rates by clicking here.

Category U-3 is the official unemployment rate. This is the rate reported most often by the news. As of November 2009 it was 10%.

Categories U-4 and U-5 include "discouraged workers" which "...have given a job-market related reason for not looking currently for a job." Both of these categories also include other types of workers as well.

Now, here's the interesting part: U-6. This category includes "marginally attached workers" who are "...persons who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the recent past." It also includes the total unemployed and those employed part-time for economic reasons. The U-6 rate was 17.2% as of November 2009.

Here's my question: WHO are the marginally attached workers? I don't understand this category. We know that discouraged workers are a subset of the marginally attached. But if you're not a discouraged worker then WHY aren't you looking for a job? Jobs don't get thrown at your front door step like the morning paper (or delivered daily to your email inbox). If you want a job then you should actively search for one, right? Otherwise, people will think you don't want to work, right?

HELP WANTED: If you have any insight on The Marginally Attached Workers please leave a comment!

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