Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Understanding Oregon's Labor Force

Do you ever think back on your Economics 101 class and wish you could remember some of those awesome things you learned? Well, you can brush up on some of the most important bits of econ vocabulary (and then show off how smart you are to your friends and family) by checking out the following:

The labor force consists of all residents 16 and older who are employed or who are "unemployed and actively seeking work". The numbers of employed and unemployed people are determined primarily by a monthly survey of about 60,000 households nationwide, including almost 1,000 in Oregon.

Employed: A labor force participant is counted as employed if s/he...
•worked at least one hour as a paid employee; or
•worked in his or her own business, profession, or farm; or
•worked at least 15 hours as an unpaid worker in an enterprise operated by a family member; or
•was temporarily absent from work because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, parental leave, labor-management dispute, job training or other family or personal reasons.

The Unemployed
A labor force participant is counted as unemployed if s/he...
•had no job, and was available for work, and made specific efforts to find work, or
•was waiting to be recalled to a job after a layoff, regardless of whether or not he or she was looking for other work.

The definition of unemployment excludes discouraged workers and people who work part time but would prefer full time work are not counted as unemployed.

Debunking an unemployment myth: A person does not have to be drawing unemployment insurance benefits to be counted as unemployed! In fact, in early 2009, the number of people receiving unemployment insurance payments was about two-thirds the number of people counted as unemployed.

Unemployment Rate: The unemployment rate is simply the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the labor force.

There are five major categories of the unemployed, based on reason for unemployment:
Job losers are on temporary or permanent layoff
Job leavers voluntarily left a job and immediately began to look for another
•Those who completed temporary jobs and began to look for new jobs
Re-entrants worked, left the labor force, and have begun a new job search
New entrants have never worked before and are now seeking employment

To help distinguish the causes of rising or falling unemployment rates, economists often characterize unemployment as:

Seasonal unemployment, which results from normal, repetitive fluctuations in business activity that occur as the seasons change, for example, post-holiday layoffs in the retail trade sector

Cyclical unemployment, which results from a general downturn in business activity that is brought about by reduced demand for goods and services such as during a recession

Structural unemployment, which refers to a mismatch between industry needs and the skills of the local workforce, typically caused by a change in the economic structure of an area or by technological change

Frictional unemployment, which occurs due to inevitable delays between starting a job search and finding a suitable job

Want to learn a little more? Read the full article by state employment economist Art Ayre...
who is leaving the Employment Department on December 9th to take a new position with the Department of Administrative Services.
(Hey Art: We will miss you!)

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