Monthly Unemployment Numbers Don’t Tell Whole Story

In Washington, Republican US Senate candidate Dino Rossi refers to it as the “functional” unemployment rate: 17.4 percent. Or nearly one in five people. That’s the number the US Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to capture not just the out-of-work, but a whole host of other people who’ve been hurt by the down economy. Dave Wallace with Washington’s Employment Security Department says it’s the broadest measure of both unemployment and under-employment.

“You’re talking about people that have given up looking for work, of course. People that are working less than full-time when they want to be working full-time. But you’re also talking about people who are working in a job below what they would prefer to be working in wage-wise or otherwise.”

In Oregon the percentage of people who fit into this category is 18 percent. In Idaho it’s 14 percent. These figures are from last year - the most recent snapshot available.