Are fresh-faced graduates looking for their first job unemployed? Or only persons drawing unemployment checks? Is a person counted as unemployed if he or she has been looking for work in recent months but has spent the past month caring for a family member instead? Many people would like to work full time but can only find part-time jobs. At least they are employed, right? What about those people who have given up looking for work? Are they still counted as unemployed?

In fact, all these people are considered unemployed by one or more of the six alternative measures (shown below) that are produced every month by the BLS. However, the unemployment rate that is most widely reported (known as U-3) counts only those who are unemployed and actively seeking work during the past month. This paper describes the alternative unemployment rates as reported by the BLS, and their significance, and briefly reviews recent data for the Third District states.

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