Unemployment and Underemployment

The unemployment rate doesn't include many people who work, but still can't get by.


The underemployment rate (U-6) includes everyone in the traditional unemployment rate, plus discouraged workers (those who have stopped looking for work due to current economic conditions); marginally attached workers (those who would like and are able to work, but have not looked for work recently); and involuntary part-time workers (persons employed less than 35 hours/week but who want, and are available for, full-time work).

Take a look at how Washington measures up. The Great Recession cut deeply in the bone of the state’s labor market – and today, the state’s underemployment rate is still roughly double the unemployment rate.

Taken together, the state’s working-age employment rate and underemployment rate tell us one thing: there are still a lot of Washington residents who could use a job – or a better job. And it’s likely that explains why wage growth hasn’t taken off, even as unemployment has reached such lows.

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