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Google Maps: December 2017 US Unemployment

As of December 2017 preliminary numbers, unemployment is lowest in the Midwest and New England, and is generally higher in the West and some states. Unemployment numbers are implemented by each state's Department of Labor using a standardized federal formula but there may be some differences in how each state collects the data.

Data Source: US Department of Labor, Local Area Unemployment Statistics.

How the Government Measures Unemployment

"When workers are unemployed, they, their families, and the country as a whole lose. Workers and their families lose wages, and the country loses the goods or services that could have been produced. In addition, the purchasing power of these workers is lost, which can lead to unemployment for yet other workers."

"Addressing the issue of unemployment requires information about the extent and nature of the problem. How many people are unemployed? How did they become unemployed? How long have they been unemployed? Are their numbers growing or declining? Are they men or women? Are they young or old? Are they White, or Black, or Asian, or of Hispanic ethnicity? How much education do they have? Are they concentrated in one area of the country more than another? These statistics—together with other economic data—can be used by policymakers to determine whether measures should be taken to influence the future course of the economy or to aid those affected by joblessness."

4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims

How strong is economy right now? The four week moving average of unemployment claims is 228,500 which is the lowest level since February 1973, PRIOR to the 1973 oil crisis, and is much lower as a percentage of the work force.

The danger of such a tight labor market is inflation, especially with the new flood of debt put forward by the federal government. Throw in a devaluing of US currency from that federal debt, and you have prime conditions for inflation -- all it takes is a spark in a dry forest to make a wildfire.

Data Source: U.S. Employment and Training Administration, 4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims [IC4WSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, February 15, 2018.

Google Maps: 2017 Unemployment Rate Across NY State

This interactive map looks at the state of employment in New York State during the year 2017. There are 64 counties plus 98 municipalities shown on this map, click to bring up detailed statistics on the monthly unemployment for the past year. The economy in New York City has been quite strong over over the past year, producing a lot of jobs, while parts of the North Country and Southern Tier, especially rural areas have been somewhat left behind. Persistent high unemployment, especially during the winter months remains a problem in rural New York.

At 11.3% unemployed in December 2017, Hamilton County in the Adirondack Park has the state’s highest unemployment rate.🤔
That sounds really bad, however much employment in Hamilton County is seasonal in nature, with unemployment being only 3.9% in July and 3.8% in August. 🏕⛰🚵🏊
There are only 2,300 people in the Hamilton County labor force, with 300 unemployed.

The True Unemployment Rate: U6 Vs. U3

"The first two BLS measures of the unemployment rate, U-1 and U-2, are very narrow. The U-3 unemployment rate is the officially recognized rate of unemployment, measuring the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labor force. Unless otherwise stated, all generic references to the employment rate in government communications and in the media refer to U-3 unemployment. The U-4 unemployment rate is similar to the U-3 rate, but it adds in a category of people who are technically outside the labor force, known as discouraged workers. Discouraged workers desire work and have actively looked for work in the past 12 months, but they have not looked in the last four weeks because they don't believe there is work available for them due to economic conditions or other reasons. The U-5 unemployment rate includes everyone in the U-4 rate, in addition to any people who are available to work, willing to work and not discouraged from looking for work, but who have not looked for work in the prior four weeks for some other reason. The U-6 unemployment rate includes everyone in the U-5 rate plus any people who work part time because full-time work is not available due to economic conditions."

Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons (U6RATE)

There is sometimes criticism that the US Unemployment Rate (U3) does not include enough people who are out of work but would actually be employed such as part-time workers who seek full-time work. The U6 unemployment rate attempts to count everybody who are "marginally attached" workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons. The U6 rate remains the lowest in nearly 20 years, and is actually lower then 30 years ago.

Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons [U6RATE], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, January 23, 2018.

Rise Of The Contract Workers: Work Is Different Now

"A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is made up of workers under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. Workers across all industries and at all professional levels will be touched by the movement toward independent work — one without the constraints, or benefits, of full-time employment. Policymakers are just starting to talk about the implications."

New York vs Federal Minimum Wage

New York's minimum wage has generally tracked along with the federal minimum wage, sometimes going up a bit before the federal minimum wage, and in the 1990s under the George Pataki administration, it was below the federal minimum wage for a few years. Now it's a bit above the federal minimum wage, which hasn't increased in over a decade, but is still lower then Massachusetts Minimum Wage.

Note: 2019-2021 are estimates, assuming no changes to state or federal law. Minimum wage is for Upstate NY, and does not include the higher wages required for fast food workers or those in the Metropolitan region of New York.

Data Sources:

NYS DOL, Minimum Wage (Upstate NY) for 2017-2021.

U.S. Department of Labor, Federal Minimum Hourly Wage for Nonfarm Workers for the United States [FEDMINNFRWG], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, December 20, 2017.

U.S. Department of Labor, State Minimum Wage Rate for New York [STTMINWGNY], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, December 21, 2017.