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U-3 unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March 2017; U-6 was 8.9 percent

April 12, 2017

The unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March 2017. The last time the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent was during the first half of 2007. The March unemployment rate of 4.5 percent resulted from there being 7.2 million unemployed people among the 160.2 million people in the labor force. People were counted as unemployed if they did not work for pay during the week that included March 12, had actively sought employment during the preceding 4 weeks or were waiting to be recalled from a temporary layoff, and could have started a job if they had received an offer of employment. The labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed people. 

Alternative measures of labor underutilization, U-1 through U-6, January 2007–March 2017, seasonally adjusted
Month U-1, Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force U-2, Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force U-3, Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force U-4, Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers U-5, Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force U-6, Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

Jan 2007

1.4% 2.2% 4.6% 4.9% 5.6% 8.4%

Feb 2007

1.4 2.2 4.5 4.8 5.4 8.2

Mar 2007

1.5 2.1 4.4 4.6 5.3 8.0

Apr 2007

1.5 2.2 4.5 4.7 5.4 8.2

May 2007

1.5 2.2 4.4 4.7 5.3 8.2

Jun 2007

1.5 2.2 4.6 4.8 5.5 8.3

Jul 2007

1.5 2.4 4.7 4.9 5.5 8.4

Aug 2007

1.5 2.4 4.6 4.9 5.5 8.4

Sep 2007

1.5 2.3 4.7 4.8 5.5 8.4

Oct 2007

1.5 2.4 4.7 4.9 5.6 8.4

Nov 2007

1.5 2.4 4.7 4.9 5.5 8.4

Dec 2007

1.6 2.5 5.0 5.2 5.8 8.8

Jan 2008

1.6 2.5 5.0 5.3 6.0 9.2

Feb 2008

1.6 2.5 4.9 5.1 5.9 9.0

Mar 2008

1.6 2.7 5.1 5.3 5.9 9.1

Apr 2008

1.7 2.6 5.0 5.2 5.8 9.2

May 2008

1.8 2.8 5.4 5.7 6.3 9.7

Jun 2008

1.9 2.8 5.6 5.8 6.5 10.1

Jul 2008

2.0 2.9 5.8 6.1 6.7 10.5

Aug 2008

2.2 3.2 6.1 6.3 7.1 10.8

Sep 2008

2.3 3.4 6.1 6.4 7.1 11.0

Oct 2008

2.6 3.7 6.5 6.8 7.5 11.8

Nov 2008

2.5 4.0 6.8 7.2 8.0 12.6

Dec 2008

2.9 4.3 7.3 7.7 8.4 13.6

Jan 2009

3.1 4.8 7.8 8.3 9.1 14.2

Feb 2009

3.5 5.2 8.3 8.8 9.5 15.2

Mar 2009

3.8 5.5 8.7 9.1 9.9 15.8

Apr 2009

4.1 5.8 9.0 9.4 10.2 15.9

May 2009

4.5 6.1 9.4 9.8 10.6 16.5

Jun 2009

5.1 6.2 9.5 10.0 10.8 16.5

Jul 2009

5.1 6.1 9.5 9.9 10.8 16.4

Aug 2009

5.1 6.2 9.6 10.0 10.9 16.7

Sep 2009

5.5 6.5 9.8 10.2 11.0 16.7

Oct 2009

5.6 6.5 10.0 10.5 11.4 17.1

Nov 2009

5.7 6.3 9.9 10.4 11.2 17.1

Dec 2009

5.8 6.3 9.9 10.4 11.3 17.1

Jan 2010

5.8 6.1 9.8 10.4 11.3 16.7

Feb 2010

5.8 6.2 9.8 10.5 11.3 17.0

Mar 2010

5.9 6.2 9.9 10.5 11.2 17.1

Apr 2010

5.9 6.1 9.9 10.6 11.3 17.1

May 2010

5.8 6.0 9.6 10.3 10.9 16.6

Jun 2010

5.8 5.9 9.4 10.1 10.9 16.4

Jul 2010

5.7 5.9 9.4 10.1 11.0 16.4

Aug 2010

5.5 5.9 9.5 10.2 10.9 16.5

Sep 2010

5.5 5.9 9.5 10.2 10.9 16.8

Oct 2010

5.6 5.8 9.4 10.2 11.0 16.6

Nov 2010

5.6 6.2 9.8 10.5 11.2 16.9

Dec 2010

5.6 5.7 9.3 10.1 10.9 16.6

Jan 2011

5.5 5.5 9.1 9.7 10.8 16.2

Feb 2011

5.3 5.5 9.0 9.6 10.6 16.0

Mar 2011

5.3 5.4 9.0 9.5 10.4 15.9

Apr 2011

5.2 5.4 9.1 9.7 10.5 16.1

May 2011

5.3 5.4 9.0 9.5 10.3 15.8

Jun 2011

5.3 5.3 9.1 9.7 10.7 16.1

Jul 2011

5.3 5.3 9.0 9.6 10.6 15.9

Aug 2011

5.4 5.2 9.0 9.6 10.5 16.1

Sep 2011

5.4 5.2 9.0 9.7 10.5 16.4

Oct 2011

5.1 5.1 8.8 9.4 10.3 15.8

Nov 2011

5.0 5.0 8.6 9.3 10.1 15.5

Dec 2011

4.9 4.9 8.5 9.1 10.0 15.2

Jan 2012

4.8 4.7 8.3 8.9 9.9 15.2

Feb 2012

4.7 4.6 8.3 8.9 9.8 15.0

Mar 2012

4.6 4.5 8.2 8.7 9.6 14.5

Apr 2012

4.6 4.4 8.2 8.8 9.6 14.6

May 2012

4.6 4.5 8.2 8.7 9.6 14.7

Jun 2012

4.7 4.6 8.2 8.7 9.6 14.8

Jul 2012

4.5 4.6 8.2 8.7 9.6 14.8

Aug 2012

4.5 4.4 8.1 8.6 9.6 14.6

Sep 2012

4.4 4.2 7.8 8.3 9.3 14.8

Oct 2012

4.4 4.2 7.8 8.3 9.2 14.4

Nov 2012

4.2 4.2 7.7 8.3 9.2 14.4

Dec 2012

4.3 4.2 7.9 8.5 9.4 14.4

Jan 2013

4.2 4.3 8.0 8.5 9.4 14.5

Feb 2013

4.1 4.2 7.7 8.2 9.2 14.4

Mar 2013

4.1 4.1 7.5 8.0 8.9 13.8

Apr 2013

4.1 4.1 7.6 8.1 8.9 14.0

May 2013

4.1 3.9 7.5 8.0 8.8 13.8

Jun 2013

4.0 3.9 7.5 8.1 9.0 14.2

Jul 2013

3.9 3.8 7.3 7.9 8.7 13.8

Aug 2013

3.9 3.7 7.3 7.8 8.6 13.6

Sep 2013

3.8 3.8 7.2 7.7 8.6 13.7

Oct 2013

3.8 4.0 7.2 7.7 8.5 13.6

Nov 2013

3.7 3.7 6.9 7.4 8.2 13.1

Dec 2013

3.6 3.5 6.7 7.3 8.1 13.1

Jan 2014

3.4 3.5 6.6 7.1 8.1 12.7

Feb 2014

3.4 3.5 6.7 7.1 8.0 12.6

Mar 2014

3.4 3.5 6.7 7.1 7.9 12.6

Apr 2014

3.2 3.3 6.2 6.7 7.5 12.3

May 2014

3.1 3.2 6.3 6.7 7.5 12.1

Jun 2014

3.0 3.1 6.1 6.5 7.3 12.0

Jul 2014

2.9 3.1 6.2 6.6 7.5 12.2

Aug 2014

2.9 3.0 6.2 6.6 7.4 12.0

Sep 2014

2.8 2.9 5.9 6.3 7.3 11.8

Oct 2014

2.8 2.8 5.7 6.2 7.0 11.5

Nov 2014

2.7 2.9 5.8 6.2 7.0 11.4

Dec 2014

2.6 2.8 5.6 6.0 6.9 11.2

Jan 2015

2.7 2.7 5.7 6.1 7.0 11.3

Feb 2015

2.5 2.7 5.5 6.0 6.8 11.0

Mar 2015

2.4 2.7 5.4 5.9 6.7 10.9

Apr 2015

2.3 2.6 5.4 5.9 6.7 10.8

May 2015

2.4 2.7 5.5 5.8 6.6 10.7

Jun 2015

2.2 2.6 5.3 5.6 6.4 10.5

Jul 2015

2.1 2.6 5.2 5.6 6.4 10.3

Aug 2015

2.2 2.5 5.1 5.5 6.2 10.2

Sep 2015

2.1 2.4 5.0 5.4 6.2 10.0

Oct 2015

2.1 2.5 5.0 5.4 6.2 9.8

Nov 2015

2.1 2.5 5.0 5.4 6.1 9.9

Dec 2015

2.1 2.4 5.0 5.4 6.1 9.9

Jan 2016

2.0 2.3 4.9 5.3 6.2 9.9

Feb 2016

2.1 2.4 4.9 5.3 6.0 9.8

Mar 2016

2.1 2.4 5.0 5.4 6.0 9.8

Apr 2016

2.1 2.4 5.0 5.3 6.0 9.7

May 2016

1.9 2.3 4.7 5.0 5.7 9.7

Jun 2016

2.0 2.4 4.9 5.2 6.0 9.6

Jul 2016

2.0 2.3 4.9 5.2 6.0 9.7

Aug 2016

1.9 2.4 4.9 5.3 5.9 9.7

Sep 2016

2.0 2.5 4.9 5.3 6.0 9.7

Oct 2016

2.0 2.3 4.8 5.1 5.9 9.5

Nov 2016

1.8 2.2 4.6 5.0 5.8 9.3

Dec 2016

1.9 2.3 4.7 5.0 5.7 9.2

Jan 2017

1.9 2.3 4.8 5.1 5.8 9.4

Feb 2017

1.8 2.3 4.7 5.0 5.7 9.2

Mar 2017

1.7 2.2 4.5 4.8 5.4 8.9

Note: Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.

BLS publishes six "alternative measures of labor underutilization," known as U-1 through U-6, in each month's Employment Situation news release. The unemployment rate, also called U-3, is the total number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labor force. U-1 and U-2 are more narrowly defined and always lower than the U-3 rate. U-4, U-5, and U-6 are more broadly defined and always higher.

In March 2017, the narrower measures, U-1 and U-2, were 1.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. U-1 includes only people who were unemployed for 15 weeks or longer. U-2 includes only unemployed people who lost their jobs or completed temporary jobs.

The most broadly defined rate, U-6, includes unemployed people, plus people who are "marginally attached" to the labor force, plus people who work part time for economic reasons. The marginally attached are neither working nor looking for work but want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. People who work part time for economic reasons are those that would have preferred full-time employment, but were working part time because their hours had been cut or because they were unable to find a full-time job. The U-6 rate was 8.9 percent in March 2017. Before that, it was most recently below 9.0 percent in December 2007.

These data are from the Current Population Survey and are seasonally adjusted. To learn more, see "The Employment Situation — March 2017" (HTML) (PDF). Also see charts from the Employment Situation data.

Alternative measures of labor underutilization, U-1 through U-6, definitions
Labor underutilization characteristic Measure (7)
U-1 U-2 U-3 (8) U-4 U-5 U-6

Persons unemployed (1) 15 weeks or longer

 

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs (2)

 

Total unemployed(3)

   

Discouraged workers(4)

     

Persons marginally attached to the labor force(5)

       

Persons employed part time for economic reasons(6)

         
Footnotes:

(1) People are classified as unemployed if they meet all of the following criteria: they had no employment during the reference week; they made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week; and they were available for work at that time. The U-1 measure includes only those who are unemployed and have not been employed for 15 weeks or longer. Job losers and persons who have completed temporary jobs who have been unemployed 15 weeks or longer are included.

(2) Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs are unemployed (as defined above) after losing a job or completing a temporary job, regardless of duration of unemployment. (Unemployed persons who quit their most recent job or entered the labor market for the first time are not included).

(3) Total unemployed uses the definition given in the first footnote and includes all unemployed regardless of unemployment duration or previous employment.

(4) Discouraged workers (a subset of the marginally attached) have a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work.

(5) Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months, though not in the most recent 4 weeks.

(6) Persons employed part time for economic reasons, also called involuntary part-time workers, are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for part-time hours.

(7) The U-1, U-2, and U-3 rates are calculated by taking the number of people with the given characteristic and dividing it by the number of people in the labor force (which is the sum of the employed and the unemployed). The U-4, U-5, and U-6 rates are calculated by taking the number of people with the given characteristic and dividing it by the sum of the number of people in the labor force plus the number of people with the given characteristic.

(8) U-3 is also known as the official unemployment rate.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, U-3 unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March 2017; U-6 was 8.9 percent on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/u-3-unemployment-rate-was-4-point-5-percent-in-march-2017-u-6-was-8-point-9-percent.htm (visited October 13, 2019).

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