What's the real U.S. unemployment rate?


Which would you rather see - a table of numbers, or a nice graph? When it comes to unemployment numbers, I vote for the graph!

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides several tables of data about the U.S. workforce. One such table (Table A-15) provides several different alternative measures of labor underutilization.  On the data download page, you can click the 'include graphs' button, but they just provide a simple (separate) line-chart for each variable you select.

A group from George Mason University wrote an article about this data, and provided an interesting graph, plotting several of the variables in a single chart. It was much better than looking at tables of data ... but it seemed a bit 'busy' and was difficult for me to determine exactly what was represented in the chart.

Therefore I decided to create my own version using SAS, and try to make it a bit simpler and more straightforward. Here's what I came up with:


What do you think about this data?  Is the large "Part-Time Workers for Economic Reasons" segment something we should be concerned about? Is this a trend that's going to stick around? What are your thoughts on this data?


About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over 25 years, and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book (SAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics).


    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      I guess it all depends on who you count, and who you don't count :) I also suspect there is quite a bit of "unreported employment/income" that is difficult to get statistics on.

  1. Pingback: US labor participation rate and the 'axis of evil' | SAS Training Post

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