Nevada’s Broader Jobless Rate Remains Above 20 Percent

CARSON CITY – A broader measure of Nevada’s unemployment picture, including those who have given up looking for work, showed continued improvement through the third quarter of 2012 but remains above 20 percent, a federal report shows.

Called the U-6 rate, it declined in Nevada from 22.1 percent in the four quarters through June 2012 to 21.4 percent through September for a decline of seven-tenths of a percentage point, according to the quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U-6 rate is sometimes referred to as the “actual” jobless rate because it includes discouraged workers and those working part-time who would like to be in full-time jobs.

Nationally, the U-6 unemployment rate is 15 percent in the 12 months through September, down from 15.3 percent through June.

Nevada is now the only state with a U6 rate above 20 percent. California’s U6 rate dropped to 19.6 percent in the latest report, down from 20.3 percent through June.

North Dakota has the lowest rate at 6 percent.

Nevada’s U-6 rate compares to the state’s official September seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 11.8 percent reported last week by the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), which declined three-tenths of a percentage point from August.

Nevada continues to lead the nation in both measures of unemployment.

Nevada’s official jobless rate peaked at 14 percent in October 2010. The U-6 rate in Nevada for the 12 months of 2010 was 23.6 percent. The latest quarterly U6 report reflects a decline of 2.2 percentage points since then.

Bill Anderson, chief economist for DETR, said last week when the September jobless report was released that he expects to see continued but modest improvement in the jobless numbers over the next few months.

“Nevada’s economy and our labor markets are on the mend,” he said.

Earlier this month, DETR also reported that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell in September to their lowest level in five years, dropping to under 14,000 in a month for the first time since September 2007.

The Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States shows six different jobless rates using different measures. The U-6 rate includes discouraged workers, defined as people who want work but who had not searched for work in the previous four weeks because they believed no jobs were available to them. It also includes “marginally attached” workers, defined as those who had not looked for work in the previous four weeks for any reason.

Finally the measure includes those employed part-time for economic reasons, defined as those working less than 35 hours per week who want to work full time, are available to do so, and gave an economic reason – their hours had been cut back or they were unable to find a full-time job – for working part time. These individuals are sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that this broader definition of unemployment is based on relatively small sample sizes at the state level.