The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has more than a handful of ways to measure unemployment.
Here is a quick primer:
The six state measures are based on the same definitions as those published for the United States:
- 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 (this is the definition used for the official unemployment rate);
- 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 marginally attached workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers; and
- U-6, total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.
So, if you go by the official (U-3) measurement, Nebraska had an average unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in 2011, and South Dakota stood at 4.9 percent.
However, if you want a larger picture of unemployment (U-6), what some call the “real” unemployment rate, Nebraska was at 8.9 percent, while South Dakota was at 9.3 percent.
The Bureau of Statistics notes:
In 2011, Nevada again reported the highest rate for all six alternative measures of labor underutilization. Nevada’s rates ranged from a U-2 of 8.5 percent to a U-6 of 22.7 percent, including a CPS-based unemployment rate, U-3, of 13.1 percent. California had the second highest rate for all six measures, including a U-3 of 11.6 percent. The next highest U-3 rate, 11.1 percent, was recorded in Rhode Island, which also had among the highest rates for each of the other alternative measures.
North Dakota continued to record the lowest rates for all six measures. North Dakota’s rates ranged from a U-1 of 1.2 percent to a U-6 of 6.6 percent, including a U-3 of 3.6 percent. Nebraska and South Dakota had the next lowest U-3 rates, 4.5 and 4.9 percent, respectively, and also ranked among the lowest states for the remaining measures. Four other states had U-3 values of less than 6.0 percent in 2011: New Hampshire, 5.4 percent; Iowa and Vermont, 5.8 percent each; and Wyoming, 5.9 percent. These states also had among the lowest rates for all of the other alternative measures.
For the complete report, click here.