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American UnemploymentPast, Present, and Future$
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Frank Stricker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043154

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043154.001.0001

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The U.S. Unemployment Rate

The U.S. Unemployment Rate

Development and Debate

(p.137) Chapter 6 The U.S. Unemployment Rate
American Unemployment

Frank Stricker

University of Illinois Press

Creating a scientific survey of unemployment in the 1930s and 1940s was an advance for people’s understanding of unemployment and for rational government policy. Many government officials, including Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins and agencies including the Census Bureau, the Works Progress Administration, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), deserve credit for the achievement. However, today’s BLS unemployment rate omits too many people, and the low count weakens support for job-creation programs. This chapter offers a short history and a critique. It explains and evaluates the official rate, discusses hidden unemployment, including discouraged workers and other labor-force dropouts, evaluates alternative unemployment rates, including the BLS’s U-6 and the National Jobs for All Coalition’s rate, and examines the idea of full employment.

Keywords:   unemployment rate, hidden unemployment, discouraged workers, alternative unemployment rate, U-6, labor force dropouts, Frances Perkins, Works Progress Administration, full employment, BLS

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