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Unemployment During the Great Depression (graph), William R. Parke, The Econ Review.
Graph (make own). William R. Parke, The Econ Review.
Unemployment, Wikipedia.
Unemployment, Lawrence H. Summers, Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.


The U.S. unemployment rate is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics using the Current Population Survey, which typically asks questions of ____ people.

Unemployed persons

Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

Employed persons

Persons 16 years and over in the civilian noninstitutional population who, during the reference week, (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees; worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family; and (b) all those who were not working but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job. Excluded are persons whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) or volunteer work for religious, charitable, and other organizations.

Labor force

The labor force includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary.

Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

Measurement Issues

Discouraged worker effect.  1 hour rule.

The total level of employment is much smoother.  The recessions are noticeable, but hardly dramatic.

Links:  Labor Supply  Labor Demand?

Comments?  Questions?  macro-at-econmodel-dot-com  Copyright 2006 William R. Parke