In today’s labor market, the unemployment rate drastically understates the weakness of job opportunities. This is due to the existence of a large pool of “missing workers”—potential workers who, because of weak job opportunities, are neither employed nor actively seeking a job. In other words, these are people who would be either working or looking for work if job opportunities were significantly stronger. Because jobless workers are only counted as unemployed if they are actively seeking work, these “missing workers” are not reflected in the unemployment rate.
Current “missing worker” estimates at a glance
Updated January 10, 2014, based on most current data available
- Total missing workers, December 2013: 5,990,000
- Unemployment rate if missing workers were looking for work: 10.2%
- Official unemployment rate: 6.7%