In the United States, the Bureau of Labor is responsible for tracking the percentage of people who are unemployed, seeking employment, and/or receiving unemployment benefits. However, a specific definition is used to determine whether an individual is “officially” unemployed in the U.S. According to the U-3 definition, you are considered unemployed by the Bureau of Labor if you are seeking employment and have searched for a job within the last four weeks.
The U-3 definition is the most commonly used form of measurement when tracking individuals who are actively seeking employment. However, economists believe that this definition may actually be missing three of the following major factors:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has attempted to address this problem by developing a second definition of what it means to be unemployed in the U.S. Using the U-6 definition, two of the previously mentioned factors are addressed. According to BLS, the U-6 definition includes all individuals who are “marginally attached to the labor force.” In addition, the U-6 definition also applies to individuals who are employed on a part-time basis due to job availability and the state of the economy at the time of the job search. In specific, individuals who are marginally attached to the U.S. labor force are unemployed, but they are also not seeking work. However, these individuals are prepared to take on a new job if one was to become available. Therefore, these individuals have a job-market related reason for being unemployed. Furthermore, the following definitions are six forms of measuring unemployment according to the BLS:
However, the U-3 definition and U-6 definition are the two forms of measurements that are considered the most accurate and the most useful according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.