Unemployment rate

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Why This Indicator Matters

The unemployment rate is the share of people who are looking for a job who cannot find one. It does not take into account discouraged workers who have stopped looking for a job, or individuals are working part-time but want to be working full-time.
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Definitions: Unemployment rates are annual averages for calendar years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics supplies the following definitions:

Unemployment rate. The ratio of unemployed to the civilian labor force expressed as a percent [i.e., 100 times (unemployed/labor force)].

Unemployed persons. Included are all persons who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment some time during the 4 week-period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

Employed persons. These are all persons who, during the reference week (the week including the 12th day of the month), (a) did any work as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of their family, or (b) were not working but who had jobs from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job.

Civilian labor force. Included are all persons in the civilian noninstitutional population classified as either employed or unemployed.

Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/lau/