The Economic Perspective: “The Real Unemployment Rate”

Mary:  I’m Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic perspective. Today’s program looks at the real unemployment rate.   Mike, after jumping to the mid-teens, both the national and North Carolina unemployment rates have dropped to between 7 and 8%.  This is a big achievement.  Yet does the official jobless rate capture all the special impacts of the Covid-19 recession?


Mike: Summary Answer

  • Economists increasing are answering, no
  • One of the keys to being counted as unemployed is that the jobless person is actively looking for work – if not, not counted as unemployed
  • Today, it is estimated 4 million people nationwide who want a job but are not looking because they are caring for relative, watching children, have Covid, or are afraid to look for work
  • Counting these folks as unemployed increases the jobless rate by 3% point to over 10%
  • I’m MW



Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.