Friday, April 4, 2014

March National Employment and Oregon's Labor Underutilization

Today we have two releases to share from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The Employment Situation and Labor Underutilization.

National Employment

First, the BLS monthly employment situation reported that U.S. employers added 192,000 jobs to payrolls in March. That's slightly higher than the average monthly gain of 183,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Professional and business services added the most jobs (57,000). Within the industry, employment grew by 29,000 in temporary help services, while computer systems design firms added 6,000 jobs, and architectural and engineering services grew by 5,000 jobs.

Government employment was unchanged in March. The BLS noted that federal government losses over the month (-9,000) were mostly offset by gains in non-education local government (8,000). Over the past year, federal government employment declined by 85,000 jobs.

Labor Underutilization

While the official unemployment rate for the U.S. was 6.7 percent in March, 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 (U-3) -- which differs slightly from the published unemployment rate -- falls in the middle. The U-3 measure includes all who are unemployed, actively seeking employment, and available to accept a job if offered to them.

In 2013, among all states and the District of Columbia, Nevada registered the highest rates for all six alternative measures of labor underutilization. Oregon had the third-highest U-6 rate (16.5%) among all states.

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. Oregon had 149,800 unemployed residents in 2013. An additional 141,000 workers held part-time jobs for economic reasons. The number of people marginally attached to Oregon's labor force totaled 25,600. Discouraged workers fall under the marginally attached category; Oregon had 5,900 discouraged workers who gave up looking for jobs in 2013.

For more information on today's news, check out the employment situation and labor underutilization releases from the BLS.

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