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Labor Aggregates

- Modified: Sep 4th, 2022

Main Labor Market Aggregates in Brief

  • Employed: People who have a job.
    • You still count as employed if you are on vacation, sick, on maternity leave, etc.
  • Unemployed: People who are looking for a job but don’t have one (and people who are temporarily layed off).
  • Labor Force = Employed + unemployed. You are in the labor force if you are participating in the labor market, either by selling your labor or trying to.
  • All of the above exclude:
    • The very young
    • The institutionalized (prison, nursing homes, etc.)
    • The military
  • Unemployment rate: What portion of the labor force doesn’t have a job?
\[\frac{\#\text{unemployed}}{\#\text{Labor Force}}=\frac{\#\text{unemployed}}{\#\text{unemployed}+\#\text{employed}}\]
  • Employment rate: What portion of the labor force does have a job?
\[\frac{\#\text{employed}}{\#\text{Labor Force}}=\frac{\#\text{employed}}{\#\text{unemployed}+\#\text{employed}}\]
  • Labor force participation rate: What portion of the people who could work are working or attempting to work?
\[\frac{\#\text{Labor Force}}{\text{Working Age Noninstitutionalized Civilian Population}}\]
  • employment/population ratio:
\[\frac{\#\text{Employed}}{\text{Working Age Noninstitutionalized Civilian Population}}\]

Official BLS Definitions

See the BLS glossary for more definitions.

Unemployment rate
The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force.
Unemployed persons (Current Population Survey)
Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.
Labor force (Current Population Survey)
The labor force includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary.
Employed persons (Current Population Survey)
Persons 16 years and over in the civilian noninstitutional population who, during the reference week, (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees; worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family; and (b) all those who were not working but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job. Excluded are persons whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) or volunteer work for religious, charitable, and other organizations.
Labor force participation rate
The labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.
Not in the labor force (Current Population Survey)
Includes persons aged 16 years and older in the civilian noninstitutional population who are neither employed nor unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary. Information is collected on their desire for and availability for work, job search activity in the prior year, and reasons for not currently searching. (See Marginally attached workers.)
Civilian noninstitutional population (Current Population Survey)
Included are persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia who do not live in institutions (for example, correctional facilities, long-term care hospitals, and nursing homes) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.