When presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed the “real” unemployment rate was 30-35%, that was fake news, but he was corrected to say that it is much higher than the 5% which is often reported. The fault is the media’s which fails to explain what the number means and that there are better measures also reported by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What the Real Numbers Measure.

President Trump, who said unemployment numbers were all fake right up until he took office and began bragging about the low numbers, was correct that the 5% and below number (the U3 number) was inaccurate.

Actually, the number published by BLS is correct but you have to know what it means. U3, known as "The Official Unemployment Rate," only measures people who have been out of work for a certain period of time and who are seeking full-time work. In other words, U3 is essentially those people who are collecting unemployment insurance or are reporting to State agencies looking for work.

There is also the U1 number which is around 2% and only includes those unemployed for 15-weeks or longer.

The U2 number includes actual job losses and people with term jobs such as independent contractors who have completed their term. That number is also around 2%.

U4 counts the unemployed and discouraged unemployed workers.

U4 is 5.1% for January 2017 which is slightly higher than the 4.8% U3 or Official Unemployment Rate for the same month.

U5 includes all of the above plus those “marginally” attached to the workforce. The Bureau defines the vague categories as follows: marginally attached means are those neither working nor looking for work, but willing to work if they were offered a good job and who have looked for a job during the past year.

U6 is the number Trump wanted to use in the campaign but instead used fake or “I’ve been told” numbers. That number is currently 9.4% and in addition to all the others, includes those who are employed part-time only because they can’t find a full-time job.

Not reported by media

None of those other numbers are reported by major media outlets, and are not even mentioned as alternative numbers despite how important they are.

To really understand the true picture of the unemployed and marginally employed, all you needed to do was just double the “official” unemployment number.

The federal BLS employment numbers are generally published near the beginning of each month and the next scheduled release is March 10 at 8:10 a.m. The schedule for 2017 is published on the .gov web site.

All these numbers are published at the same time by the Bureau of Labor Statistics so if you are tired of politicians arguing about the economy just go the actual source of all data now that you know there is more than the one number which you will see on TV news.

Once each quarter, the BLS also publishes local, county, state, and federal unemployment data which covers 98% of the population.