Broader U-6 Unemployment Rate Increases to 16.8% in February
MARCH 5, 2010, 9:13 AM ET
The U.S. jobless rate was unchanged at 9.7% in February, following a decline the previous month, but the governmentâ€™s broader measure of unemployment ticked up 0.3 percentage point to 16.8%.
The comprehensive gauge of labor underutilization, known as the â€śU-6â€ł for its data classification by the Labor Department, accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who canâ€™t find full-time jobs. Though the rate is still 0.6 percentage point below its high of 17.4% in October, its continuing divergence from the official number (the â€śU-3â€ł unemployment measure) indicates the job market has a long way to go before growth in the economy translates into relief for workers.
The 9.7% unemployment rate is calculated based on people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The â€śactively looking for workâ€ť definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things.
The U-6 figure includes everyone in the official rate plus â€śmarginally attached workersâ€ť â€” those who are neither working nor looking for work, but say they want a job and have looked for work recently; and people who are employed part-time for economic reasons, meaning they want full-time work but took a part-time schedule instead because thatâ€™s all they could find.
A U-6 figure that converges toward the official rate could indicate improving confidence in the labor market and the overall economy. This month pushes convergence even further away.