While the number of unemployed Idahoans has steadily declined since May 2009, jobless rates for broader definitions of unemployed – such as discouraged, underemployed and marginally attached workers – improved significantly in 2016.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies six measures, or categories, of unemployment rates based on varying components of the labor force – U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4, U-5 and U-6. (See Figure 1 for definitions.) In Idaho, the official unemployment rate falls into the U-3 category.
Idaho’s broadest measure, U-6, improved to No. 12 in the nation in 2016, three spots better than last year and 23 spots better than the No.35 ranking in 2009 as the nation was coming out of the Great Recession. The U-6 rate is the broadest formal measure of labor underutilization – or underemployment – the BLS reports. It’s determined by the total number of unemployed persons, plus all marginally attached workers, plus the total number of workers who are employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers, Many economists use this definition as the most statistically reliable measure because it uses the most robust protocols for sampling and data collection. Continue reading