Math in the News: Issue 46

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In this issue we look at unemployment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In this issue we look at unemployment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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  • 1. Unemployment StatisticsThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov) calculates the unemploymentrate. This is calculated as the ratio of the number of unemployed people divided bythe total number in the civilian labor force.
  • 2. 2008 2009 2009 2009 2009 2010 2010 2010 2010 2011 2011 2011 2011 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4thCivilian laborforce 154,708 154,300 154,660 154,214 153,582 153,707 154,132 153,913 153,788 153,314 153,510 153,679 153,960Unemployed 10,642 12,766 14,343 14,840 15,257 15,040 14,871 14,640 14,711 13,766 13,903 13,908 13,393 Numbers are in the thousands.Unemployment StatisticsThis table shows the change in the civilian labor force and the number ofunemployed from the 4th quarter of 2008 through the 4th quarter of 2011.
  • 3. 2008 2009 2009 2009 2009 2010 2010 2010 2010 2011 2011 2011 2011 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4thCivilian laborforce 154,708 154,300 154,660 154,214 153,582 153,707 154,132 153,913 153,788 153,314 153,510 153,679 153,960Unemployed 10,642 12,766 14,343 14,840 15,257 15,040 14,871 14,640 14,711 13,766 13,903 13,908 13,393UnemploymentRate 6.9 8.3 9.3 9.6 9.9 9.8 9.6 9.5 9.6 9 9.1 9.1 8.7Unemployment StatisticsThis table shows the calculated the unemployment rate.
  • 4. Unemployment StatisticsThis is a graph of the unemployment rate data. Note that the trend line shows adecrease in the unemployment rate.
  • 5. How the unemployment rate goes down: If this value goes down. If this value goes up. Or both.Unemployment StatisticsThere are three ways that the unemployment rate goes down.
  • 6. Unemployment StatisticsThese three graphs show the changes in the unemployment rate, the number ofunemployed, and the size of the labor force.
  • 7. “Who is counted as unemployed? • Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work. “ - Bureau of Labor StatisticsUnemployment StatisticsThis is how the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “unemployed.”
  • 8. Unemployment StatisticsSo, the labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed, as defined bythe Bureau.
  • 9. Unemployment StatisticsThe unemployment rate goes down when unemployed people become employed.
  • 10. Unemployment StatisticsHowever, the unemployment rate also goes down when unemployed people stoplooking for work. At that point, the number of unemployed people goes down, asdoes the size of the labor force.
  • 11. Dec11 Jan12 Civilian labor force 153,887 154,395 Employed 140,790 141,637 Unemployed 13,097 12,758 Unemployment rate 8.5 8.3 Not in labor force 86,697 87,874 Numbers are in the thousands.Unemployment StatisticsThese are the statistics for Dec 2011 and Jan 2012. Notice that over 1 millionemployees stopped looking for work from December to January.
  • 12. Unemployment StatisticsHad those people stayed in the labor force, the unemployment rate would havebeen 8.9%!
  • 13. Unemployment Statistics• Calculating unemployment statistics is extremely complex that relies on estimation, extrapolation, a good deal of data analysis.