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More on Unemployment: "Missing Workers"


 
The official US unemployment rate significantly underestimates the weakness of available job opportunities. This is due to the existence of a large pool of “missing workers” (also termed 'discouraged workers' in the literature)—potential workers who, because of weak job opportunities, are neither employed nor actively seeking a job.

EPI's “missing worker” estimates:

Total missing workers as of September 2013: 5,190,000

Actual unemployment rate   Unemployment rate if missing workers were looking for work
Jan-2006 4.7% 5.1%
Feb-2006 4.8% 4.9%
Mar-2006 4.7% 4.8%
Apr-2006 4.7% 4.9%
May-2006 4.6% 4.8%
Jun-2006 4.6% 4.7%
Jul-2006 4.7% 4.8%
Aug-2006 4.7% 4.6%
Sep-2006 4.5% 4.5%
Oct-2006 4.4% 4.4%
Nov-2006 4.5% 4.4%
Dec-2006 4.4% 4.1%
Jan-2007 4.6% 4.3%
Feb-2007 4.5% 4.3%
Mar-2007 4.4% 4.2%
Apr-2007 4.5% 4.8%
May-2007 4.4% 4.7%
Jun-2007 4.6% 4.7%
Jul-2007 4.7% 4.8%
Aug-2007 4.6% 5.0%
Sep-2007 4.7% 4.8%
Oct-2007 4.7% 5.1%
Nov-2007 4.7% 4.7%
Dec-2007 5.0% 5.0%
Jan-2008 5.0% 4.7%
Feb-2008 4.9% 4.9%
Mar-2008 5.1% 5.0%
Apr-2008 5.0% 5.1%
May-2008 5.4% 5.3%
Jun-2008 5.6% 5.5%
Jul-2008 5.8% 5.6%
Aug-2008 6.1% 5.9%
Sep-2008 6.1% 6.1%
Oct-2008 6.5% 6.4%
Nov-2008 6.8% 6.9%
Dec-2008 7.3% 7.4%
Jan-2009 7.8% 8.1%
Feb-2009 8.3% 8.6%
Mar-2009 8.7% 9.2%
Apr-2009 9.0% 9.3%
May-2009 9.4% 9.6%
Jun-2009 9.5% 9.7%
Jul-2009 9.5% 9.9%
Aug-2009 9.6% 10.2%
Sep-2009 9.8% 10.8%
Oct-2009 10.0% 11.2%
Nov-2009 9.9% 11.0%
Dec-2009 9.9% 11.4%
Jan-2010 9.8% 11.2%
Feb-2010 9.8% 11.2%
Mar-2010 9.9% 11.1%
Apr-2010 9.9% 10.8%
May-2010 9.6% 10.8%
Jun-2010 9.4% 10.9%
Jul-2010 9.5% 11.1%
Aug-2010 9.5% 11.0%
Sep-2010 9.5% 11.1%
Oct-2010 9.5% 11.3%
Nov-2010 9.8% 11.5%
Dec-2010 9.3% 11.3%
Jan-2011 9.1% 11.2%
Feb-2011 9.0% 11.1%
Mar-2011 8.9% 11.0%
Apr-2011 9.0% 11.2%
May-2011 9.0% 11.1%
Jun-2011 9.1% 11.3%
Jul-2011 9.0% 11.4%
Aug-2011 9.0% 11.2%
Sep-2011 9.0% 11.0%
Oct-2011 8.9% 11.0%
Nov-2011 8.6% 10.8%
Dec-2011 8.5% 10.7%
Jan-2012 8.3% 10.6%
Feb-2012 8.3% 10.4%
Mar-2012 8.2% 10.4%
Apr-2012 8.1% 10.6%
May-2012 8.2% 10.3%
Jun-2012 8.2% 10.3%
Jul-2012 8.2% 10.6%
Aug-2012 8.1% 10.7%
Sep-2012 7.8% 10.2%
Oct-2012 7.9% 10.1%
Nov-2012 7.8% 10.2%
Dec-2012 7.8% 10.1%
Jan-2013 7.9% 10.3%
Feb-2013 7.7% 10.3%
Mar-2013 7.6% 10.4%
Apr-2013 7.5% 10.3%
May-2013 7.6% 10.2%
Jun-2013 7.6% 10.1%
Jul-2013 7.4% 10.2%
Aug-2013 7.3% 10.1%
Sep-2013 7.2% 10.2%

Source: EPI analysis of Mitra Toossi, “Labor Force Projections to 2016: More Workers in Their Golden Years,” Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review, November 2007; and Current Population Survey public data series

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