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U-3 was 6.1 percent, U-6 was 10.4 percent, in April 2021

May 12, 2021

The official unemployment rate, also called U-3, was 6.1 percent in April 2021. The April 2021 rate was little changed from the previous month's rate of 6.0 percent. The unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in both January and February 2020. It rose to 4.4 percent in March and reached 14.8 percent in April of last year. It has generally trended down since then.

Alternative measures of labor underutilization, U-1 through U-6, January 2011–April 2021, seasonally adjusted
Month U-1, Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force U-2, Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force U-3, Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force U-4, Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers U-5, Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force U-6, Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

Jan 2011

5.5% 5.5% 9.1% 9.7% 10.6% 16.1%

Feb 2011

5.3 5.5 9.0 9.6 10.6 16.0

Mar 2011

5.3 5.4 9.0 9.5 10.4 16.0

Apr 2011

5.2 5.4 9.1 9.7 10.6 16.1

May 2011

5.3 5.4 9.0 9.6 10.4 15.9

Jun 2011

5.3 5.3 9.1 9.7 10.7 16.1

Jul 2011

5.3 5.3 9.0 9.6 10.6 15.9

Aug 2011

5.4 5.2 9.0 9.6 10.5 16.1

Sep 2011

5.4 5.2 9.0 9.7 10.5 16.4

Oct 2011

5.1 5.1 8.8 9.4 10.3 15.8

Nov 2011

5.0 5.0 8.6 9.3 10.2 15.6

Dec 2011

4.9 4.9 8.5 9.1 10.0 15.2

Jan 2012

4.8 4.7 8.3 8.9 9.8 15.1

Feb 2012

4.7 4.6 8.3 8.9 9.8 15.0

Mar 2012

4.6 4.5 8.2 8.7 9.6 14.6

Apr 2012

4.6 4.4 8.2 8.7 9.6 14.7

May 2012

4.6 4.5 8.2 8.7 9.7 14.8

Jun 2012

4.7 4.6 8.2 8.7 9.6 14.7

Jul 2012

4.5 4.6 8.2 8.6 9.6 14.7

Aug 2012

4.5 4.4 8.1 8.6 9.6 14.6

Sep 2012

4.4 4.2 7.8 8.3 9.3 14.8

Oct 2012

4.4 4.2 7.8 8.3 9.2 14.4

Nov 2012

4.2 4.2 7.7 8.3 9.2 14.4

Dec 2012

4.3 4.2 7.9 8.5 9.4 14.4

Jan 2013

4.2 4.3 8.0 8.5 9.3 14.5

Feb 2013

4.2 4.2 7.7 8.2 9.2 14.3

Mar 2013

4.1 4.0 7.5 8.0 9.0 13.9

Apr 2013

4.1 4.1 7.6 8.1 9.0 14.0

May 2013

4.1 3.9 7.5 8.0 8.8 13.9

Jun 2013

4.0 3.9 7.5 8.2 9.1 14.2

Jul 2013

3.9 3.8 7.3 7.8 8.7 13.8

Aug 2013

3.8 3.8 7.2 7.8 8.6 13.6

Sep 2013

3.8 3.8 7.2 7.8 8.6 13.5

Oct 2013

3.7 4.0 7.2 7.7 8.6 13.6

Nov 2013

3.7 3.7 6.9 7.4 8.2 13.1

Dec 2013

3.6 3.5 6.7 7.2 8.1 13.1

Jan 2014

3.4 3.4 6.6 7.0 8.0 12.6

Feb 2014

3.5 3.5 6.7 7.1 8.0 12.6

Mar 2014

3.5 3.4 6.7 7.1 8.0 12.7

Apr 2014

3.2 3.3 6.2 6.7 7.6 12.3

May 2014

3.1 3.2 6.3 6.8 7.7 12.3

Jun 2014

3.0 3.1 6.1 6.5 7.3 12.0

Jul 2014

3.0 3.1 6.2 6.6 7.4 12.1

Aug 2014

2.9 3.0 6.1 6.6 7.4 12.0

Sep 2014

2.8 2.9 5.9 6.4 7.2 11.7

Oct 2014

2.7 2.8 5.7 6.2 7.1 11.5

Nov 2014

2.7 2.9 5.8 6.2 7.1 11.4

Dec 2014

2.6 2.8 5.6 6.0 6.9 11.2

Jan 2015

2.6 2.7 5.7 6.1 6.9 11.2

Feb 2015

2.5 2.7 5.5 5.9 6.7 10.9

Mar 2015

2.4 2.6 5.4 5.9 6.7 10.9

Apr 2015

2.3 2.6 5.4 5.9 6.7 10.9

May 2015

2.4 2.8 5.6 6.0 6.8 10.9

Jun 2015

2.3 2.6 5.3 5.6 6.4 10.4

Jul 2015

2.2 2.6 5.2 5.6 6.3 10.3

Aug 2015

2.2 2.5 5.1 5.5 6.2 10.2

Sep 2015

2.1 2.5 5.0 5.4 6.2 10.0

Oct 2015

2.1 2.5 5.0 5.4 6.2 9.8

Nov 2015

2.1 2.5 5.1 5.4 6.1 10.0

Dec 2015

2.1 2.4 5.0 5.4 6.1 9.9

Jan 2016

2.0 2.2 4.8 5.2 6.0 9.7

Feb 2016

2.1 2.3 4.9 5.2 5.9 9.6

Mar 2016

2.1 2.4 5.0 5.4 6.1 9.8

Apr 2016

2.1 2.5 5.1 5.4 6.1 9.9

May 2016

1.9 2.4 4.8 5.2 5.9 9.9

Jun 2016

2.0 2.4 4.9 5.2 5.9 9.5

Jul 2016

2.0 2.3 4.8 5.1 5.9 9.6

Aug 2016

1.9 2.3 4.9 5.2 5.9 9.6

Sep 2016

2.0 2.4 5.0 5.3 6.1 9.7

Oct 2016

2.0 2.3 4.9 5.2 5.9 9.6

Nov 2016

1.9 2.2 4.7 5.1 5.9 9.4

Dec 2016

1.9 2.3 4.7 5.0 5.7 9.2

Jan 2017

1.9 2.3 4.7 5.0 5.6 9.2

Feb 2017

1.8 2.3 4.6 4.9 5.6 9.1

Mar 2017

1.7 2.2 4.4 4.7 5.4 8.8

Apr 2017

1.7 2.3 4.5 4.7 5.4 8.7

May 2017

1.7 2.1 4.4 4.6 5.3 8.6

Jun 2017

1.6 2.2 4.3 4.6 5.2 8.5

Jul 2017

1.7 2.1 4.3 4.5 5.2 8.4

Aug 2017

1.7 2.2 4.4 4.7 5.3 8.6

Sep 2017

1.7 2.1 4.2 4.5 5.2 8.3

Oct 2017

1.6 2.0 4.1 4.4 5.1 8.1

Nov 2017

1.6 2.0 4.2 4.5 5.1 8.1

Dec 2017

1.5 2.0 4.1 4.4 5.1 8.1

Jan 2018

1.5 2.0 4.0 4.3 4.9 8.0

Feb 2018

1.4 2.0 4.1 4.3 5.0 8.1

Mar 2018

1.4 1.9 4.0 4.3 4.9 8.0

Apr 2018

1.5 1.9 4.0 4.3 4.9 7.9

May 2018

1.3 1.8 3.8 4.1 4.8 7.8

Jun 2018

1.4 1.9 4.0 4.2 4.8 7.7

Jul 2018

1.5 1.8 3.8 4.1 4.6 7.4

Aug 2018

1.4 1.7 3.8 4.1 4.7 7.3

Sep 2018

1.4 1.7 3.7 4.0 4.7 7.5

Oct 2018

1.4 1.8 3.8 4.1 4.7 7.5

Nov 2018

1.3 1.8 3.8 4.0 4.7 7.6

Dec 2018

1.4 1.8 3.9 4.1 4.8 7.6

Jan 2019

1.3 1.9 4.0 4.2 4.8 8.0

Feb 2019

1.4 1.7 3.8 4.0 4.6 7.2

Mar 2019

1.4 1.7 3.8 4.1 4.6 7.4

Apr 2019

1.3 1.7 3.7 3.9 4.6 7.4

May 2019

1.3 1.7 3.7 3.9 4.5 7.2

Jun 2019

1.3 1.7 3.6 3.9 4.5 7.2

Jul 2019

1.3 1.7 3.6 3.8 4.5 6.9

Aug 2019

1.3 1.7 3.7 3.9 4.6 7.2

Sep 2019

1.3 1.5 3.5 3.7 4.3 6.9

Oct 2019

1.3 1.7 3.6 3.8 4.3 7.0

Nov 2019

1.3 1.7 3.6 3.8 4.3 6.9

Dec 2019

1.2 1.6 3.6 3.7 4.3 6.8

Jan 2020

1.2 1.6 3.5 3.7 4.3 6.9

Feb 2020

1.2 1.6 3.5 3.7 4.3 7.0

Mar 2020

1.2 2.6 4.4 4.7 5.3 8.8

Apr 2020

1.1 13.2 14.8 15.1 16.0 22.9

May 2020

1.4 11.5 13.3 13.6 14.6 21.2

Jun 2020

2.0 8.9 11.1 11.5 12.4 18.0

Jul 2020

5.0 8.1 10.2 10.6 11.3 16.5

Aug 2020

5.1 6.4 8.4 8.7 9.6 14.2

Sep 2020

4.6 5.6 7.8 8.2 8.9 12.8

Oct 2020

3.8 4.8 6.9 7.2 8.0 12.1

Nov 2020

3.6 4.7 6.7 7.1 7.9 12.0

Dec 2020

3.4 4.5 6.7 7.1 7.9 11.7

Jan 2021

3.4 4.4 6.3 6.7 7.4 11.1

Feb 2021

3.5 4.1 6.2 6.5 7.3 11.1

Mar 2021

3.5 3.9 6.0 6.4 7.1 10.7

Apr 2021

3.3 4.0 6.1 6.4 7.2 10.4

Note: Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.

The April unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was calculated from the 9.8 million unemployed people among the 161.0 million people in the labor force, which is the sum of employed and unemployed people. People were counted as unemployed if they were not employed during the week that included April 12th, had actively sought work during the preceding 4 weeks or were waiting to be recalled from a temporary layoff, and could have started a job if they had received an offer.

BLS publishes six "alternative measures of labor underutilization," known as U-1 through U-6, in each month's Employment Situation news release. As mentioned above, the U-3 rate is the total number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labor force. U-1 and U-2 are more narrowly defined and are always lower than the official unemployment rate, while U-4, U-5, and U-6 are more broadly defined and always higher.

The U-1 rate, which includes only people who were unemployed for 15 weeks or longer was 3.3 percent in April 2021. The U-2 rate, which includes only unemployed people who lost their jobs or completed temporary jobs, was 4.0 percent.

The most broadly defined rate, U-6, includes unemployed people, plus people who are "marginally attached" to the labor force, plus people who work part time for economic reasons. The marginally attached are neither working nor looking for work but want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. People who work part time for economic reasons are those that would have preferred full-time employment, but were working part time because their hours had been cut or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

The U-6 rate was 10.4 percent in April 2021. This was less than half what it was a year earlier when it was 22.9 percent, which was the highest level recorded since the measure was introduced in 1994.

These data are from the Current Population Survey and are seasonally adjusted. See "The Employment Situation — April 2021" to learn more. Also see charts of Employment Situation data.

Alternative measures of labor underutilization, U-1 through U-6, definitions
Labor underutilization characteristic Measure (7)
U-1 U-2 U-3 (8) U-4 U-5 U-6

Persons unemployed (1) 15 weeks or longer

 

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs (2)

 

Total unemployed(3)

   

Discouraged workers(4)

     

Persons marginally attached to the labor force(5)

       

Persons employed part time for economic reasons(6)

         
Footnotes:

(1) People are classified as unemployed if they meet all of the following criteria: they had no employment during the reference week; they made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week; and they were available for work at that time. The U-1 measure includes only those who are unemployed and have not been employed for 15 weeks or longer. Job losers and persons who have completed temporary jobs who have been unemployed 15 weeks or longer are included.

(2) Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs are unemployed (as defined above) after losing a job or completing a temporary job, regardless of duration of unemployment. (Unemployed persons who quit their most recent job or entered the labor market for the first time are not included).

(3) Total unemployed uses the definition given in the first footnote and includes all unemployed regardless of unemployment duration or previous employment.

(4) Discouraged workers (a subset of the marginally attached) have a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work.

(5) Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months, though not in the most recent 4 weeks.

(6) Persons employed part time for economic reasons, also called involuntary part-time workers, are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for part-time hours.

(7) The U-1, U-2, and U-3 rates are calculated by taking the number of people with the given characteristic and dividing it by the number of people in the labor force (which is the sum of the employed and the unemployed). The U-4, U-5, and U-6 rates are calculated by taking the number of people with the given characteristic and dividing it by the sum of the number of people in the labor force plus the number of people with the given characteristic.

(8) U-3 is also known as the official unemployment rate.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, U-3 was 6.1 percent, U-6 was 10.4 percent, in April 2021 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/u-3-was-6-1-percent-u-6-was-10-4-percent-in-april-2021.htm (visited December 04, 2021).

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