Unemployment Rate

The percentage of those aged 16 and over who say they are available for work but without a job. In the U.S., the rate is calculated monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on a survey of 60,000 households called the Current Population Survey, which is conducted by the Census Bureau. People age 16 and over are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job and say they are available for employment and have made at least one attempt to find a job in the prior four weeks. Official statistics are available on the BLS website.

(Caution: Persons are counted as unemployed regardless of whether or not they qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. A common but false notion is that only insured jobless people are counted. This is not so.

On the other hand, many who are without regular jobs are still not counted as “unemployed.” These include people in prison, retirees, stay-at-home spouses, full-time students, or anyone aged 15 or under, among others.)