Math in the News: Issue 46

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

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Math in the News: Issue 46

  1. 1. Unemployment Statistics The Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov) calculates the unemployment rate. This is calculated as the ratio of the number of unemployed people divided by the total number in the civilian labor force.
  2. 2. Unemployment Statistics This table shows the change in the civilian labor force and the number of unemployed from the 4th quarter of 2008 through the 4th quarter of 2011. 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 4th Civilian labor force 154,708 154,300 154,660 154,214 153,582 153,707 154,132 153,913 153,788 153,314 153,510 153,679 153,960 Unemployed 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.
  3. 3. Unemployment Statistics This table shows the calculated unemployment rate. 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 4th Civilian labor force 154,708 154,300 154,660 154,214 153,582 153,707 154,132 153,913 153,788 153,314 153,510 153,679 153,960 Unemployed 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 Unemployment Rate 6.9 8.3 9.3 9.6 9.9 9.8 9.6 9.5 9.6 9 9.1 9.1 8.7
  4. 4. Unemployment Statistics This is a graph of the unemployment rate data. Note that the trend line shows a decrease in the unemployment rate.
  5. 5. Unemployment Statistics There are three ways that the unemployment rate goes down. How the unemployment rate goes down: If this value goes down. If this value goes up. Or both.
  6. 6. Unemployment Statistics These three graphs show the changes in the unemployment rate, the number of unemployed, and the size of the labor force.
  7. 7. Unemployment Statistics This is how the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “unemployed.” “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 Statistics
  8. 8. Unemployment Statistics So, the labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed, as defined by the Bureau.
  9. 9. Unemployment Statistics The unemployment rate goes down when unemployed people become employed.
  10. 10. Unemployment Statistics However, the unemployment rate also goes down when unemployed people stop looking for work. At that point, the number of unemployed people goes down, as does the size of the labor force.
  11. 11. Unemployment Statistics These are the statistics for Dec 2011 and Jan 2012. Notice that over 1 million employees stopped looking for work from December to January. Dec'11 Jan'12 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.
  12. 12. Unemployment Statistics Had those people stayed in the labor force, the unemployment rate would have been 8.9%!
  13. 13. Unemployment Statistics • Calculating unemployment statistics is extremely complex and relies on estimation, extrapolation, a good deal of data analysis.

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