Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Labor Underutilization (a.k.a. Unemployment and Underemployment) in Oregon

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released information on labor underutilization in Oregon in 2012. 

First, let's elaborate a bit on what we mean by labor underutilization. There are actually six measures of unemployment and/or underemployment -- or labor underutilization -- published by the BLS. The narrowest measure (U-1) includes only persons unemployed for 15 weeks or longer. By contrast, the broadest measure of labor underutilization (U-6) includes all unemployed persons, along with those marginally attached to the labor force (not actively seeking employment), and all those employed part-time who would like full-time employment. The official concept of unemployment falls in the middle (U-3), and includes all who are unemployed but actively seeking employment, and are available to accept a job. The U-3 number differs slightly from the officially published unemployment rate though, since labor underutilization figures come from the Current Population Survey, while the unemployment rate results from statistical modeling in the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program.

From 2011 to 2012, all six rates of labor underutilization improved in Oregon and the U.S. The BLS reports that the official unemployment rate in Oregon was 8.9 percent in 2012, compared with 8.1 percent nationwide. Oregon's U-6 measure fell to 17.2 percent in 2012 from 17.5 percent the previous year. The state's U-6 measure peaked at 20.7 percent in 2009. Nationally, the U-6 rate averaged 14.7 percent in 2012.

Oregon had 173,300 unemployed residents in 2012. An additional 139,600 workers held part-time jobs for economic reasons. The number of people marginally attached to Oregon's labor force totaled 28,200. Discouraged workers fall under the marginally attached category; Oregon had 4,500 discouraged workers who gave up looking for jobs in 2012. Those who are working part-time for economic reasons due to slack business conditions or the inability to find a full-time job make up the largest portion of Oregon's U-6 rate.
You can find more information about labor underutilization and find 2012 data for all states at the BLS site.

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