The Labor Department said Friday that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in January, the lowest since February 2008. But does that tell the whole story?
Most economists look past the main unemployment number (also known as the “U-3”) to other metrics that provide more perspectives on the economy. On jobs day, the Labor Department releases a slew of data, each of which says something different about the state of jobs and wages.
One of those figures is the U-6 rate.
While the U-3 rate measures all unemployed workers as a percent of the civilian labor force, the U-6 includes more. It’s defined as all unemployed as well as “persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons” plus all marginally attached workers, as a percentage of the labor force.
That means the rate for the unemployed, the underemployed and the discouraged remains stubbornly above prerecession levels.