According to Labor Department data, the civilian labor force in June totaled 153.7 million people, 14.6 million (9.5%) of whom were unemployed. But in the latest IBD/TIPP poll conducted last week, 28.6% of respondents said at least one member of their household is unemployed and looking for work. This number for June was 27.8% and for May 28%.
When we project our household job-seekers rate and calculate the share of Americans who are unemployed and looking for work, we get a job-seeker rate of 24.1% for July for a total of 37 million Americans vs. the government’s aforementioned 14.6 million.
The difference between our crude job-seeker rate of 24.1% and the Labor Department’s jobless rate of 9.5% is night and day. The difference between our job-seekers (37 million) and Labor’s unemployed (14.6 million) is a staggering 22.4 million. How does one account for 22 million people? Which is the reality?
To come up with its monthly jobless rate, the Labor Department surveys some 60,000 households. But the popular unemployment measure that results, dubbed U-3, is not a good indicator, because the department counts as “unemployed” only those who report actively looking for work in the past four weeks.
Some 8.6 million Americans responding to a tight job market have taken part-time jobs, though they’d like to be working full-time. In calculating U-3, the government counts these “underemployed” people as “employed,” which helps reduce the unemployment rate.
Another 6.5 million individuals in the government survey say they want a job, but they are counted as not being part of the labor force (“persons not in the labor force but who currently want a job”). This category includes 2.6 million who are marginally attached persons. Of these passive job-seekers, some have other obligations but would take a job if offered.