U-3 Unemployment rate lowers in Washington

Looking at what unemployment reflects in the economy.


Mackenzie Hendricks


During the month of April, the U-3 unemployment rate in Washington fell to 7.3, the lowest rate since December 2008 when it was 6.9. This signals that the economy is improving, despite the comparable higher unemployment rate for new graduate students.

Unemployment rates are split into six varying levels of strictness: U-1 to U-6.

U-1 takes into account only those that have been without work for 15 months, as it is the lowest level of unemployment calculation. U-2 is a step above U-1 and adds in those who have involuntarily lost their jobs or have completed temporary jobs.

U-3 is the official unemployment rate and calculates only those unemployed that are actively seeking work.

U-4 expands to reach discouraged workers, and U-5 includes marginally attached workers, which are potential workers who have stopped seeking employment for various reasons.

U-6, the final step of the unemployment rates, is often referred to as the true unemployment rate because it branches out to those who have only been able to find part-time work.

In many ways, the statistics for the numbers of jobs that are gained and lost are easily manipulated. Although Washington’s U-3 rate reflects improvement, the state’s U-6 rate tells a different story.

True unemployment rate in Washington, from the last quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, was 16.4 percent compared to the national average of 14.5 percent. While Washington is in the middle of the pack with a U-3 unemployment value, the state’s true unemployment rate is one of the highest in the United States.

Outside the employment rate, there is also disagreement on whether the amount of available jobs are rising at a fast enough pace, or even at all, especially in preparation for graduate students.

In January 2011, there was a rise of 10,600 jobs in Washington. This was because although 57,700 jobs were expected to be lost after Christmas, only 47,100 employees were laid off.

The statistics were altered further by the fact that fewer people than projected were employed before Christmas, and therefore less became unemployed afterward.

More and more people have become discouraged and are no longer seeking work in the current job market.

Although the U-3 unemployment rate does accurately depict a portion of the population, it’s only the tip of the ice berg.

As explained by the Congressional Budget Office in 2012, when the official unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, there were people “who would like to work but have not searched for a job in the past four weeks as well as those who are working part time, but would prefer full-time work; if those people were counted among the unemployed, the unemployment rate in January 2012 would have been about 15 percent.”

An area that experiences a brunt of the economic pain is the upcoming college graduates and young workers. Of the 2011 college graduate students, 12.6 percent of them were unemployed that year according to the Bureau of National Statistics, without mention to the large portion that was underemployed.

The economic loss in the nation resulted in less wealth, which in turn provided the government with less money to spend, as there is less money to tax. The government was forced to cut spending in places such as education, as displayed by Washington state which is ranked 43rd in education spending per student. Areas such as instructor income and class sizes have especially suffered from the lack of funds.

Associated Students of Pierce College Puyallup President Michael Alkire stressed after the Legislative Rally earlier this year at Olympia that students are the solution to the economic crisis and cutting funding on students is only continuing the economic crisis.

The unemployment rate from students with bachelor’s degrees is 13.5 percent, but students with advanced degrees have a lower unemployment rate at 8.6 percent, which is still above the U-3 Washington unemployment rate. The only clear solution is to gain as much education as possible, as there are few jobs out there and the most qualified will not be those who remain unemployed.

Although both the official and true unemployment rates are declining, the change is gradual and will most likely seriously impact students currently in college as they pursue their careers.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

U-3 Unemployment rate lowers in Washington

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