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. Here's the graph for LNU03327707, for example:

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 a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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    • 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.

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