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ERIC Number: ED301680
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986-Jun-26
Reference Count: N/A
Counting All the Jobless: Problems with the Official Unemployment Rate. Thirty-Seventh Report by the Committee on Government Operations. 99th Congress, 2d session.
Congress of the U. S., Washington, DC. House Committee on Government Operations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes the official unemployment rate on the first Friday of each month based on a sample survey of 59,500 households called the Current Population Survey. Unemployment data for states and local areas are published monthly by the BLS in cooperation with the state employment security agencies. The primary basis for calculating local area unemployment statistics is the count of residents claiming unemployment insurance benefits under state law. State employment agencies use a formula methodology to measure the labor force because not all workers are covered by unemployment insurance. Local area unemployment data are often produced for small areas that the BLS concedes are subject to large relative error. A study of the accuracy of the official unemployment rate revealed several major flaws in the method used to calculate it. The BLS actually calculates seven rates of unemployment. Unfortunately, the U-5, i.e., the figure commonly called the "official unemployment rate," excludes discouraged workers and individuals who are part-time workers for economic reasons. These persons are, however, counted in the U-7 rate. Specific problems also exist with respect to measuring unemployment in urban and rural areas. The consistent undercounting of the number of jobless persons in the United States has serious ramifications for Congress's attempts to develop and fund education and training programs. (MN)
Publication Type: Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Congress of the U. S., Washington, DC. House Committee on Government Operations.