Questions Asked to Measure Unemployment Rate in the United States

Measuring the unemployment rate in the United States is a difficult task. It entails decisive and secure design of survey samples to arrive at the most appropriate and reliable figures. It is not a simple survey of just asking who among a group of people do not have a job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics under the Department of labor conducts these surveys every month in order to get a seasonal trend of unemployed citizens by reason for unemployment and even duration of unemployment. The design of the survey is carefully thought of and, since 1940, has encountered several improvements and modifications to get effective results.  More than 2,000 people are employed to conduct these surveys monthly.

Personal characteristics are considered in the survey and these include date of birth, sex, race, marital status, ethnicity, educational attainment or veteran status, among many others. The execution of these surveys is done per household, although each individual in the family in assessed. All information provided by household members is encoded in the surveyor’s laptop computer. Some of the questions that are asked are if the household owns a farm or business, or if any family member did a job for profit over the last week.

When a member has been laid off from work, more questions are asked. For one, he will be asked if he has done a job last week as part-time or full-time. He will be asked to include any job for which he was temporarily absent. When laid off, he will further be asked is his employer has given him a date to return to work or if he has been given some assurance that he will be recalled to work within six months.

So many more questions on an unemployment survey will show that its calculation goes more than measuring the number of people who have lost jobs.