Research

Looking beyond the U.S unemployed

In September, the U.S. unemployment rate dipped below 6% for the first time since 2008, fueling debate about whether the U.S. economy is approaching full employment—the level beyond which the economy overheats and inflation begins to accelerate. This estimate of unemployment, along with alternative unemployment rates and labor force participation, is based on a representative survey. The BLS determines an individual’s labor market status using their answers to survey questions about their current employment condition and their job search or lack thereof. Economic reasons include: beliefs that no work available in the area of expertise; could not find any work; lacks necessary schooling/training; employers think too young or too old, and other types of discrimination. Noneconomic reasons include: cannot arrange child care; family responsibilities; in school or other training; ill health; physical disability; transportation problems; and other.