WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Unemployment statistics count those adults who are actively looking for work but unable to find employment.[i] A high unemployment rate can demonstrate a lack of available jobs or a mismatch between the skills of the workforce and the requirements of employers. Healthy economies correct these imbalances and maintain a low unemployment rate. Unfortunately, unemployment disproportionately affects minorities, the young and the less educated.[ii] To make matters worse, unemployment can affect both mental and physical health, triggering anxiety or depression.[iii] And what’s more, too many unemployed residents and not enough job openings increases employment competition and therefore lowers wages.[iv] This can result in a further increase in inequities for already low-income populations.
Unemployment data come from two different sources: the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS). Employment and unemployment estimates from the ACS and LAUS can differ because the surveys use different questions, samples, and collection methods. To learn more about each source, visit the Unemployment section of our Metadata page.
[i] Oregon Employment Department
[ii] H. Levin, 1983. “Youth Unemployment and its Educational Consequences,” Education Policy and Analysis 5, no. 2 (1983): 231-247.
[iii] J. Turner, “Economic Context and the Health Effects of Unemployment,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 36, no. 3 (1995): 213-229.
[iv] Harry Holtze, “The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: What has the Evidence Shown?” Urban Studies 28 (1991).