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Monthly Unemployment Numbers Don’t Tell Whole Story

Gregoire 2010 budget.jpg
AP photo
Governor Chris Gregoire in Olympia last April.

In Washington, Republican US Senate candidate Dino Rossi refers to it as the “functional” unemployment rate: 17.4 percent. Or nearly one in five people. That’s the number the US Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to capture not just the out-of-work, but a whole host of other people who’ve been hurt by the down economy. Dave Wallace with Washington’s Employment Security Department says it’s the broadest measure of both unemployment and under-employment.

“You’re talking about people that have given up looking for work, of course. People that are working less than full-time when they want to be working full-time. But you’re also talking about people who are working in a job below what they would prefer to be working in wage-wise or otherwise.”

In Oregon the percentage of people who fit into this category is 18 percent. In Idaho it’s 14 percent. These figures are from last year - the most recent snapshot available.