Alternative unemployment rates

Business & Economy

Statewide alternative unemployment rates, 2003-present


U-1: Unemployed 15 weeks or longer.
U-2: Job losers + temporary workers.
U-3: Official rate — jobless available to work who have looked in most recent four weeks.
U-4: Unemployed + discouraged (potential workers who have dropped out of the labor force but looked for jobs in the last year).
U-5: Unemployed + discouraged + other marginally attached (available for work, but hadn’t looked in last four weeks).
U-6: Unemployed + discouraged + marginally attached + part-time workers who’d prefer full-time work.

Political rhetoric about jobs often gets packed into one number: the unemployment rate. The key to interpreting that number’s true meaning is knowing what the unemployment rate doesn’t measure: underemployed and discouraged workers.

Low unemployment rates are generally good, but can be deceiving if they disguise the realities of underemployment. That’s because the “official” rate doesn’t account for people who may be working part-time, for example, but would like to work more.

Although only one unemployment rate is typically, the federal government calculates six different rates for each state. The following visualizations show all of them from 2003 to 2014. Compare each rate over the years to see how Vermont’s annual averages stack up against national trends.

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Hilary Niles

About Hilary

Hilary Niles joined VTDigger in June 2013 as data specialist and business reporter. She returns to New England from the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, where she completed her master's coursework. While there, she worked at Investigative Reporters & Editors and covered state and local government for radio, print and the Web. She’s been a researcher-in-residence at American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop in Washington, D.C.; a reporter and community radio program director in the New Hampshire; and, in Boston, a public radio producer. She studied English at the University of New Hampshire and documentary writing at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine.

Email: [email protected]

Follow Hilary on Twitter @nilesmedia

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