True
Rate of Unemployment*

23.7%

May 2021

* As defined by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP)
Headline
Rate of Unemployment*

5.8%

May 2021

* As defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is the “True Rate of Unemployment”?

The True Rate of Unemployment, as defined by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP), measures the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed.

Using data compiled by the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the True Rate of Unemployment tracks the percentage of the U.S. labor force that does not have a full-time job (35+ hours a week) but wants one, has no job, or does not earn a living wage, conservatively pegged at $20,000 annually before taxes.

Just as an accurate census is a prerequisite to funding American communities equitably, policymakers depend on economic indicators to shape economic policy. LISEP developed the True Rate of Unemployment to provide analysts and decision-makers with a more accurate measure of Americans’ financial well-being.

For a more in-depth explanation of the True Rate of Unemployment, please reference this white paper.

OVERVIEW

True Rate of Unemployment

1995-2021

Select any point on the chart to see the True Rate of Unemployment for that month.

2000
2005
2010
2015
2020
1995
By RACE

True Rate of Unemployment by Race

Select any point on the chart to see the True Rate of Unemployment for that month.

28.4%
Black
May 2021
26.8%
Hispanic
May 2021
21.8%
White
May 2021
2000
2005
2010
2015
2020
1995
By SEX

True Rate of Unemployment by Sex

Select any point on the chart to see the True Rate of Unemployment for that month.

28.1%
Female
May 2021
19.5%
Male
May 2021
2000
2005
2010
2015
2020
1995
By EDUCATION

True Rate of Unemployment by Education

Select any point on the chart to see the True Rate of Unemployment for that month.

50.3%
No High School
May 2021
29.1%
High School Diploma
May 2021
22.6%
Some College
May 2021
14.4%
Bachelors Degree
May 2021
11.7%
Advanced Degree
May 2021
2000
2005
2010
2015
2020
1995

True Rate of Unemployment by State

August 2020

Select any state or percentage to see the most recent True Rate of Unemployment.