Federal Priorities Database: Underemployment (U-6)

Earlier this week, we added a new dataset to the Federal Priorities Database: underemployment. I really like this metric and think it's worthy of further explanation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the unemployedas people who “do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.”

By this definition, these people are excluded from the unemployment rate:

  • Marginally attached: people looking work in the past year but not during the past 4 weeks
  • Involuntary part-time: people who want to work full time but are working less than 35 hours a week due to cut hours or an inability to find a full-time job

Luckily, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes several Alternate Measures of Labor Underutilizationthat help us cast a wider net. The most inclusive of these is called, uncreatively, U-6 and is defined as unemployed + marginally attached + involuntary part-time workers.

We decided to call this metric underemployment instead of U-6.

For example, consider Nevada, the state with the highest 2010 unemployment rate at 14.9%. Add in the marginally attached and involuntary part time workers to get underemployment and watch the number jump to 23.6%.

See it in action for yourself, and drop us a line if you have any questions.