US at 17.5% Unemployed and Underemployed

The New York Times published  an article on November 6th that talked to the point that the “broader measure of unemployment stands at 17.5%“.

The 17.5% rate includes the officially unemployed, who have looked for work in the last four weeks. It also includes discouraged workers, who have looked in the past year, as well as millions of part-time workers who want to be working full time.

The actual rate of underemployment may be even higher since the official government definitions and measures of unemployment miss other underemployment cases.

According to wikipedia, in economics, the term underemployment has three different distinct meanings and applications. All meanings involve a situation in which a person is working, unlike unemployment, where a person who is searching for work cannot find a job.   Underemployment can mean:

  1. The employment of workers with high skill levels in low-wage jobs that do not require such abilities, for example a trained medical doctor who works as a taxi driver.
  2. “Involuntary part-time” workers — workers who could (and would like to) be working for a full work-week but can only find part-time work. By extension, the term is also used in regional planning to describe regions where economic activity rates are unusually low, due to a lack of job opportunities, training opportunities, or due to a lack of services such as childcare and public transportation.
  3. “Overstaffing” or “hidden unemployment”, the practice in which businesses or entire economies employ workers who are not fully occupied—for example, workers currently not being used to produce goods or services due to legal or social restrictions or because the work is highly seasonal.

Former U.S. labour secretary Robert Reich has said that he believes the Unofficial U.S. jobless rate could be as high as 20%.

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