US – Economy – Bureau of Labor Statistics – Measures of Unemployment – 30 March 2012 

Yesterday I was having a discussion on here with my cousin Mike and someone else he knows about measures of “labour underutilisation” (wow, I really got a chance to use my Canadian spellings on that one!) The unemployment rate, in other words, but fixed up so it actually properly represents those who are looking for work but can’t find it. The current unemployment rate in the US (as is the case in many other places as well) only represents those who are out of work within a certain time period, after which they are counted as “discouraged workers” and no longer counted as members of the “labour force”. That’s an unfair representation, so alternative measures have been created.

These calculations range from the simpler U1 and U2 rates, U3 (the unemployment rate as currently calculated), and U4, U5 and U6, which bring in other groups to measure that are not employed and want to be.

(When talking to Mike and his friend, I tried to calculate one of these, which is shown as U5 on this list of alternative measures, but managed to make a boorish math error and get the answer wrong. Once I figured out my error, though, I did fairly closely approximate the value of U5. U6 is an even better measure, though.)

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