The unemployment rate is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The rate is found by dividing the number of unemployed by the total civilian labor force.
On June 3, 2011, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for May, 2011 of 9.1% (actually it is 9.053% up .093% from 8.960% in April 2011). This was determined by dividing the number of unemployed of 13,914,000 (up 167,000 from April 2011 but down 970,000 from May 2010) by the total civilian labor force of 153,693,000 (up by 272,000 from last month). Since May 2010, our total civilian labor force has decreased by 544,000 people.
On the surface, these new unemployment rates are scary, but let’s look a little deeper and consider some other numbers.
The unemployment rate includes all types of workers—construction workers, farmers, etc. However, the unemployment rate for management, professional and related workers in May was fixed at 4.4% (this rate is .4% up from last month’s 4.0%). Another way to view it is that the unemployment rate in May for those with college degrees was fixed at 4.5% (this rate is the same as last month’s).