The U.S. Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent in January—but does that rate tell the real story?
A number of economists look past the “main” unemployment rate to a different figure the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “U-6,” which it defines as “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.”
In other words, the unemployed, the underemployed and the discouraged — a rate that still remains high.
The U-6 rate fell sharply in January to 12.7 percent. While it is down 170 basis points from January of last year, the trend has been more volatile than in the main unemployment rate, which steadily declined.