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[Excerpt] The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has for many years published various measures of unemployment and other labor market difficulties. There are six “alternative measures of labor underutilization” published each month in the Employment Situation news release. These measures provide insights into a broad range of problems encountered by workers in today's labor market. The official unemployment rate, also referred to in the list of alternative measures as U-3, is defined as the total number of unemployed persons as a percentage of the labor force, while U-1 and U-2 are more narrowly defined and U-4 through U-6 are broader in scope.

The original set of alternative measures was first introduced by the BLS in 1976.5 These measures were later revised following the 1994 redesign of the Current Population Survey (CPS) to account for changes in the definitions of certain labor force measures as well as the collection of new data. Since the redesign of the CPS in 1994, the economy has experienced two recessions—in 2001 and in 2007-2009—during which the entire range of alternative measures (U-1 through U-6) increased. This issue of Beyond the Numbers examines trends in the BLS alternative measures of labor underutilization over the period from 1994 to 2014.


Suggested Citation
Brundage, V. (2014). Trends in unemployment and other labor market difficulties. Beyond the Numbers (Vol. 3, No. 25). Washington, DC: Bureau of Labor Statistics.