Closer Look

In class Powerpoint slides:  Unit5.f2fslides.2013

Tutorial: Understanding Employment and Unemployment Calculations

The key to understanding changes in unemployment rates lies in understanding the definitions of who is employed, who is unemployed, and who is neither employed nor unemployed because they aren’t considered part of the workforce.  The following diagram should help:

Diagram of definitions of employed, unemployed and workforce.For a step-by-step look at this diagram, open this tutorial on unemployment calculations (opens in new window/tab).

When Is the Data Released for the U.S.?

U.S. employment and unemployment data for each month is released on the first Friday morning of the following month.  The data are published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their Current Population Survey.  The BLS – CPS homepage is here.  It offers a quick overview of the current state of employment in the economy as well as more detailed reports and historical data and graphs.

How is the U.S. Doing?

The go-to source for up-to-date data and graphs for economists in the U.S. is FRED.  FRED stands for Federal Reserve Economics Data.  Another great resource with easy-to-read graphs and brief commentary on each release of data on the day it happens is from CalculatedRiskBlog, an EXCELLENT source of current macro economic news and data presented with attractive graphs.

Where Do They Get the Data?

If you are curious about where or how they get this data, I suggest looking at these two posts from my blog where I discussed methodology and the surveys used to compile the data.  The data aren’t precise. They are very much estimates.