The U.S. jobless rate rose to 9.9% in April, the first increase in three months, but the government’s broader measure of unemployment ticked up for the third month in a row, rising 0.2 percentage point to 17.1%.
The comprehensive gauge of labor underutilization, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs. Though the rate is still 0.3 percentage point below its high of 17.4% in October, its continuing divergence from the official number (the “U-3″ unemployment measure) indicates the job market has a long way to go before growth in the economy translates into relief for workers.
The 9.9% unemployment rate is calculated based on people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The “actively looking for work” definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things. The number ticked up this month as more people came back into the labor force to look for jobs. (Read a more in-depth explanation for the rise in the unemployment rate.)
The U-6 figure includes everyone in the official rate plus “marginally attached workers” — those who are neither working nor looking for work, but say they want a job and have looked for work recently; and people who are employed part-time for economic reasons, meaning they want full-time work but took a part-time schedule instead because that’s all they could find.
A U-6 figure that converges toward the official rate could indicate improving confidence in the labor market and the overall economy. This month pushes convergence even further away.
Hopeandchange continues to kill us by 1,000 cuts.