What Is the Definition of Unemployment?

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Conceptually, unemployment is the state of an individual looking for a paying job but not having one.  As a result, unemployment does not include individuals such as full-time students, the retired, children, or those not actively looking for a paying job.  It also doesn't count individuals who work part-time but would like a full-time job.  Mathematically, the unemployment rate is equal to the number of unemployed people divided by the size of the labor force.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes this basic unemployment rate (known as U-3) as well as a number of related measures (U-1 through U-6) in order to give a more nuanced view of the unemployment situation in the U.S.

Terms related to Unemployment:

  • Frictional Unemployment
  • Cyclical Unemployment
  • Structrual Unemployment
  • Unemployment Rate

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Moffatt, Mike. "What Is the Definition of Unemployment?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/economic-definition-of-unemployment-1147305. Moffatt, Mike. (2020, August 26). What Is the Definition of Unemployment? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/economic-definition-of-unemployment-1147305 Moffatt, Mike. "What Is the Definition of Unemployment?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/economic-definition-of-unemployment-1147305 (accessed January 28, 2021).