News organizations often report the unemployment rate as a percentage. But what is it a percentage of? How many Americans are really looking for work?
Unemployed, Underemployed, and Discouraged
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates unemployment figures each month. It bases these percentages on the number of people over 16 in the United States. In October 2013, 7.2% of the U.S. population was unemployed. This means that 11.3 million people were not working and were looking for work. Another 7.9 million people worked part-time but wanted full time jobs. Finally, 2.3 million people wanted work, but hadn’t applied for a job in the last 30 days. About 800,000 of those people had given up looking for work. They assumed that there were no jobs available.
The BLS surveys 60,000 households to estimate the unemployment rate. Each month, these households report how many people in the house are employed, unemployed, and employed part-time. The government uses these surveys to estimate the unemployment rate across the country.
Some people think that the official unemployment rate is not accurate. They think 7.2% is lower than the actual number of unemployed. They think it should include people who retired early, applied for disability, or decided to stay home because they couldn’t find work. Some politicians have suggested that the government should provide jobs for unemployed people. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided jobs for people who were out of work. CCC members built national parks, improved roads and bridges, and created works of art. On the other hand, the US unemployment rate is still lower than the unemployment rate in many European countries.
See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45pDWwRG5Lw
Watch the following videos to learn about recent unemployment rates in America and Greece.