Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is renewing his push for legislation that would amend how the federal government assesses the U.S. unemployment rate. When calculating national unemployment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently omits those individuals who have given up looking for work, making the overall joblessness rate appear substantially lower than it actually is.
If the government were to measure unemployment based on Hunter’s calculation, unemployment would spike from the current 8.3-percent rate to 9.6 percent — which critics say will further debase the Obama administration’s already paling record on jobs and economic growth.
Currently, the BLS measures both figures, but reports the "U-3 rate" as the nation’s official unemployment figure. The Hill explains the difference between the U-3 and U-5 rates:
The U-5 stat measures, "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," while the U-3 stat or the "official unemployment rate," measures, "total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force."
So if Hunter’s one-page bill, entitled the "REAL Unemployment Calculation Act" (H.R. 4128), were to become law, the official U.S. unemployment rate would now stand at 9.6 percent, more than one percent higher than what the BLS is presently estimating.
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