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News Release Information

22-454-NEW
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Contacts Technical information: Media contact:
  • (646) 264-3620

Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization in New York — 2021

In 2021, the broadest measure of labor underutilization, designated U-6 (which includes the unemployed, workers employed part-time for economic reasons, and those marginally attached to the labor force), was 12.2 percent in New York State, significantly higher than the 9.4-percent rate for the nation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Chief Regional Economist Martin Kohli noted that in New York City the U-6 rate was 15.5 percent, also significantly higher than the U.S. rate.

In 2021, 5 of the 6 alternative measures of labor underutilization—U-2 through U-6—were significantly lower than their 2020 levels in both New York State and New York City. Nationally, the same five measures declined significantly over the year. (See table 1.)

The official concept of unemployment, U-3 in the U-1 to U-6 range of measures, includes all jobless persons who are available to take a job and have actively sought work in the past 4 weeks. In New York State and New York City, 7.0 percent and 9.7 percent of their respective labor forces were unemployed as measured by U-3 in 2021, both significantly higher than the national rate of 5.3 percent. (See chart 1 and chart 2.) (The official measure of unemployment in states is derived using a statistical model that incorporates data from the Current Population Survey [CPS] and other sources, and this model-based estimate can differ from the direct CPS estimate discussed here.)

New York State had 643,200 unemployed residents in 2021 according to the CPS. In addition, there were 347,100 workers who were employed part time for economic reasons (also known as involuntary part time). These individuals were working part time because of slack work or business conditions or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See chart 3.) New York City had 380,500 unemployed residents and 158,900 involuntary part-time workers. (See chart 4.) Nationwide, there were 4.91 million individuals working part time for economic reasons in 2021.

In 2021, the number of individuals considered to be marginally attached to the labor force in New York State was 142,200, including 83,300 New York City residents. People marginally attached to the labor force are not working, but indicate that they would like to work, are available to work, and have looked for work at some time during the past 12 months, even though they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. In the United States, the number of people marginally attached totaled 1.78 million in 2021.

Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, are persons who are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. In 2021, there were 52,300 discouraged workers in New York State, accounting for 37 percent of the marginally attached in the state. New York City had 38,300 of the state’s discouraged workers.The U-4 measure, which adds discouraged workers to the number of the unemployed (expressed as a percentage of the labor force plus the number of discouraged workers), was 7.5 percent in New York State and 10.6 percent in New York City, both significantly higher than the 5.6-percent rate for the nation.

State comparisons

In 2021, 20 states had rates significantly lower than those of the U.S. for all six measures of labor underutilization, while 4 states had rates significantly higher than those of the U.S. for all six measures. (See table 2.)

The U-4 rate includes discouraged workers; thus, the difference between U-3 and U-4 reflects the degree of would-be job-seeker discouragement. At the national level, the difference between U-3 and U-4 was +0.3 percentage point in 2021. No state had a noteworthy difference between these two measures.

The U-5 rate includes all people who are marginally attached to the labor force, and U-6 adds those who are involuntary part-time workers. Therefore, the larger the difference between U-5 and U-6, the higher the incidence of this form of "underemployment." In 2021, 49 states and the District of Columbia had significant differences between their U-5 and U-6 rates. Nevada had the largest gap, +5.0 percentage points. At the national level, the difference between U-5 and U-6 was +3.0 percentage points.

Relative to 2020, five states had over-the-year decreases in all six measures of labor underutilization: Hawaii, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. These 5 states were the only ones with decreases in their U-1 rates. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia had significant decreases in all five of the other measures. None of the 50 states and the District had a significant increase in any of the six measures.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on Current Population Survey Data for 2021

The “Questions” section at www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-and-response-on-the-employment-situation-news-release.htm extensively discusses the impact of a misclassification in the Current Population Survey on the national estimates beginning in March 2020 (see questions 12–15). Despite the considerable decline in its degree relative to prior months, this misclassification continued to be widespread geographically through the end of 2021. However, according to usual practice, the data from the household survey are accepted as recorded. To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses.


Technical Note

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces six measures of labor underutilization based on Current Population Survey (CPS) data. Monthly, the BLS publishes these six measures for the United States in the Employment Situation news release. (See www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t15.htm.) State estimates, presented as 4-quarter averages, are provided each quarter on the BLS website. (For the most recent data see www.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm.)

The official concept of unemployment (as measured in the CPS) is equivalent to the U-3 in the U-1 to U-6 range of measures. The other measures are provided to data users and analysts who want more narrowly (U-1 and U-2) or broadly (U-4 through U-6) defined measures.

The unemployment rates (U-3) in this release are derived directly from the CPS, because this is the only source of data for the various components of the alternative measures. As a result, these U-3 measures may differ from the official state annual average unemployment rates. The latter are estimates developed from statistical models that greatly improve the reliability of the top-side labor force and unemployment estimates. Those models, developed by the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program, incorporate CPS estimates, as well as input data from other sources. The model-based estimates are accessible through the LAUS home page at www.bls.gov/lau/home.htm.

Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.

Table 1. Over-the-year change and measure of statistical significance in alternative measures of labor underutilization for the United States, New York, and New York City 2020–21 annual averages (percent)
Measure United States New York New York City
2020 2021 Change 2020–21 2020 2021 Change 2020–21 2020 2021 Change 2020–21

U-1 Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force

2.8 2.8 0.0 4.2 4.5 0.3 6.0 6.4 0.4

U-2 Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force

6.1 3.2 -2.9* 7.7 4.5 -3.2* 9.7 6.2 -3.5*

U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official concept of unemployment) (1)

8.1 5.3 -2.8* 9.9 7.0 -2.9* 12.4 9.7 -2.7*

U-4 Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers (2)

8.4 5.6 -2.8* 10.4 7.5 -2.9* 13.1 10.6 -2.5*

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 (2)

9.2 6.4 -2.8* 11.4 8.4 -3.0* 14.2 11.6 -2.6*

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 (2)

13.6 9.4 -4.2* 16.0 12.2 -3.8* 19.2 15.5 -3.7*

Footnotes:
(1) The U-3 rates presented are unofficial state estimates derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The official measure is a model-based estimate available through the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program at www.bls.gov/lau/data.
(2) 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.

Note: An asterisk indicates that the over-the-year change is statistically different at the 90-percent confidence level.

Table 2. Alternative measures of labor underutilization by state, 2021 annual averages (percent)
State Measure
U-1 U-2 U-3 U-4 U-5 U-6

United States

2.8 3.2 5.3 5.6 6.4 9.4

Alabama

1.7 2.0 3.6 3.8 4.1 6.1

Alaska

3.3 4.3 6.8 7.1 8.0 11.0

Arizona

2.7 3.0 5.1 5.3 6.3 9.0

Arkansas

1.9 2.1 4.1 4.4 5.0 7.1

California

4.1 4.6 7.2 7.6 8.5 12.8

Colorado

2.3 2.7 5.1 5.3 5.9 9.7

Connecticut

3.5 4.3 6.4 6.5 7.1 10.7

Delaware

3.1 3.2 5.5 5.7 6.2 8.6

District of Columbia

3.6 3.7 6.1 6.5 7.6 9.7

Florida

2.5 2.8 4.5 4.9 5.6 8.7

Georgia

1.9 2.2 4.0 4.3 5.1 7.9

Hawaii

3.9 4.4 6.1 6.7 7.4 11.9

Idaho

1.2 1.9 3.7 3.9 4.4 7.2

Illinois

3.2 3.8 6.0 6.2 7.0 10.0

Indiana

1.6 2.4 3.8 3.9 4.3 6.5

Iowa

1.3 2.1 3.8 4.0 4.4 6.4

Kansas

1.4 1.6 3.3 3.6 4.1 6.7

Kentucky

1.5 2.7 4.7 4.9 5.7 7.5

Louisiana

3.2 3.2 5.4 5.8 6.4 9.0

Maine

2.3 2.8 4.5 4.6 5.2 7.3

Maryland

3.0 2.7 5.6 5.9 6.7 9.3

Massachusetts

3.4 3.8 5.8 6.0 6.9 9.5

Michigan

2.8 3.1 5.7 5.9 6.7 9.5

Minnesota

1.9 2.3 3.8 4.0 4.7 6.5

Mississippi

2.5 2.8 5.5 5.9 6.6 9.3

Missouri

1.9 2.4 4.3 4.5 5.1 7.5

Montana

1.2 1.7 3.3 3.4 4.0 6.4

Nebraska

0.9 1.4 2.8 2.9 3.2 5.1

Nevada

5.0 5.5 7.7 8.1 9.0 14.0

New Hampshire

1.5 2.1 3.7 3.8 4.4 6.1

New Jersey

4.0 4.1 6.3 6.7 7.4 10.7

New Mexico

3.6 3.6 6.7 7.0 7.7 10.4

New York

4.5 4.5 7.0 7.5 8.4 12.2

North Carolina

2.4 2.2 4.6 4.9 5.5 8.4

North Dakota

1.2 2.0 3.3 3.5 4.0 5.9

Ohio

2.1 2.6 5.0 5.2 6.0 8.8

Oklahoma

1.7 2.2 4.0 4.4 4.9 8.2

Oregon

2.9 3.2 5.2 5.4 6.3 9.6

Pennsylvania

3.4 4.0 6.5 6.7 7.6 9.6

Rhode Island

2.9 3.4 5.5 5.7 6.6 9.5

South Carolina

1.9 1.7 4.1 4.5 5.2 7.1

South Dakota

0.8 1.2 2.6 2.7 3.2 4.6

Tennessee

1.8 2.2 4.1 4.3 4.9 7.2

Texas

2.8 3.2 5.7 6.0 6.7 10.0

Utah

1.0 1.4 2.9 3.1 3.5 5.3

Vermont

1.9 2.4 3.6 3.8 4.6 7.0

Virginia

1.9 1.9 3.9 4.2 5.1 8.1

Washington

2.6 3.1 5.5 5.9 6.8 10.1

West Virginia

2.1 2.8 4.7 5.1 5.7 8.3

Wisconsin

1.7 2.3 3.7 3.8 4.3 6.4

Wyoming

1.7 2.5 4.5 4.6 5.2 8.3

Note: See table 1 for definitions of measures. Statistical significance results at the 90-percent confidence level for rate differences between states and the U.S., for sequential gaps in state rates, and for over-the-year changes are available at www.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm.

 

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2022