AT A GLANCE

  • 3.247 million people are no longer part of the unemployment population calculation
  • Underutilized workers percentage of the total population is much higher than the unemployment percentage
  • Possible reasons for this segment of the population not finding an appropriate job include an aging population, parents taking time off for their families, and college students unable to find work

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Mar 01, 2013

Hopelessly Unemployed: A Missed Population in Calculation

3.247 million of the population is a huge number of people, especially when they are potentially employable. Fallen under an unaccountable category are people who were once part of the working population but lost their job, and were unable to find employment for a long period of time, leading to them losing hope of finding a job at all.   At this later stage, they are no longer part of the unemployment population calculation.

BLS has a separate category for that, called ”labor underutilization”.  Underutilized workers and unemployment can be very easily be interpreted as same, but the underutilized workers percentage of the total population is much higher than the unemployment percentage.

"We have always had a set of people who want a job but for whatever reason are not looking," said Heidi Shierholz, economist with the Economic Policy Institute. "But this recession was so severe and job opportunities are still so weak, this group is growing because of that."

Hopelessly Unemployed: A Missed Population in Calculation

Possible reasons for this segment of potentially employable segment of population not finding an appropriate job could be:

  • Faster growing aged population.
  • Parents taking time off for their family.
  • College student not able to find a job.

Unemployment Rate Through a Different Perspective

Unemployment Rate Through a Different Perspective

Persons marginally attached to the labor force are defined as those 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 past 12 months.

Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work.

Persons employed part-time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for part-time employment. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

"A person can be discouraged for a while, but then gets bumped over into this other category." ~ Stephen Bronars, senior economist for Welch Consulting

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