Home | News | U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a new study on alternative measures of labor force underutilization in Texas

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a new study on alternative measures of labor force underutilization in Texas

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The Southwest Information Office of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  today released a new study on alternative measures of labor force underutilization in the State of Texas.

Six alternative measures of labor force underutilization have long been available on a monthly basis for the United States as a whole and are published in the Employment Situation news release.

In recent years, in an effort to provide a similar range of alternatives below the national level, BLS began calculating Statewide measures based on 4-quarter moving averages. This study focuses on annual average data for Texas, but movements in other states are also included.

The official concept of unemployment (as measured by U-3 in the U-1 to U-6 range of alternatives) includes all jobless persons who are available to take a job and have actively sought work in the past four weeks.

This concept has been thoroughly reviewed and validated since the inception of the CPS in 1940. The other measures discussed here are provided for those users who want more narrowly (U-1 and U-2) or broadly (U-4 through U-6) defined concepts. Regional Commissioner Stanley Suchman noted the following points regarding the Texas study:

  • In 2010, the broadest measure of labor underutilization – a rate referred to as U-6 – which includes the unemployed, workers employed part-time for economic reasons, and persons marginally attached to the labor force, was 14.4 percent in Texas, up from 13.7 percent in 2009. Under the same definitions, the 2010 U.S. rate was 16.7 percent.
  • The 2010 U-6 rate was the highest on record for the State since 2003, the first year for which statewide annual averages became available.
  • The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons in Texas rose to 640,900 in 2010. These individuals (sometimes referred to as underemployed) were working part time because of slack work or business conditions, or because they were unable to find a full-time job. These persons, along with discouraged workers, and all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, are included in the broadest U-6 measure of underutilization
  • The category commonly referred to as “discouraged workers” often generates public interest as this group is composed of persons not currently looking for work specifically because they believe no jobs are available for them. In 2010, the number of discouraged workers in Texas reached 67,800, an increase of more than 60 percent from the 2009 level. Despite the large percentage increase, it is worth noting that this group represented only about one-tenth the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons.

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