Math in the News: Issue 58

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In this issue of Math in the News we look at unemployment statistics and compare the U3 and U6 stats. For more math media resources, go to http://www.media4math.com.

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Math in the News: Issue 58

  1. 1. U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate)UnemploymentThe U3 tracks people out of work who are actively looking for work. Thosewho have stopped looking for work are not counted in the U3. The monthlyunemployment numbers reported are the U3 stats.
  2. 2. U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor forceUnemploymentThe U6 captures all people who are capable of working, whether they arelooking for work or not. Retired people are not counted in this statistic.
  3. 3. UnemploymentWe can look at the Labor Force as made up of those who are Employed,those who are Unemployed Looking for Work (U3), and Unemployed andNot Actively Seeking Work (U6).
  4. 4. UnemploymentThe Unemployment Rate (U3) can go down when people get jobs and areEmployed.
  5. 5. UnemploymentThe Unemployment Rate (U3) can also go down when people stop lookingfor work.
  6. 6. Let’s compare the U3 and U6 statistics over a period of time.
  7. 7. U3 U6 Dec-11 8.5 15.2 Jan-12 8.3 15.1 Feb-12 8.3 14.9 Mar-12 8.2 14.5 Apr-12 8.1 14.5UnemploymentThis table shows the U3 and U6 unemployment rates for a five-monthperiod. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  8. 8. UnemploymentThis is the graph of the data from the table.
  9. 9. U3 U6 Dec-11 8.5 15.2 Jan-12 8.3 15.1 Feb-12 8.3 14.9 Mar-12 8.2 14.5 Apr-12 8.1 14.5UnemploymentBoth the U3 and U6 rates show some modest decreases, but how is theoverall number of people in the workforce changing?
  10. 10. Unemployed (thousands) 13,792 12,806 12,673 12,500 Unemployment rate 9 8.3 8.2 8.1 Not in labor force 85,726 87,564 87,897 88,419UnemploymentThis table shows that as the Unemployment Rate (U3) has gone down, thetotal number not in the Labor Force has gone up.
  11. 11. While the Unemployment Rate (U3) has gone down, this has been due in part to people no longer looking for work.

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