Where do they get unemployment percentages?

Just curious if they just get them from the number of those collecting unemployment. Because if they are, wouldn't the numbers be much higher as most unemployed people do not collect unemployment as most households have 2 wage earners?

Yes that's correct. Unemployment stats come from the number unemployment insurance and welfare claims and adjusted for certain factors.

But some people do give up or can't get a job before the insurance lapses. Some go back to school or are married and once their insurance lapses the spouse is considered by the government to be no longer unemployed.

It's almost impossible to get an accurate figure, there are people who want to work and their insurance lapses but they refuse to collect welfare. Some unemployed people don't apply for insurance or welfare for various reasons. One reason are some people decide to go to school or some decide to start their own business. Lastly, there are people who give up and just decide to leave the workforce altogethor.

There are about 155 million in the workforce, new jobless claims are around 325,000 per week. Benefits last a max of 26 weeks. The umemployment rate is 4.5% right now.

From these firgures, it is obvious that the number of unemployed is about 6.9 million. For UI claims to hit this, the average unemployed person would have to get UI for
6.9mil/(325k*26 weeks) or 21 weeks.

However, the average unemployment stint lasts about 15 weeks. Using the more appropriate median, 1/2 of the unemployed population spend a little over a month out of work. Now, even if EVERY single unemployed person collected UI, hitting 5 million is mathematically impossible, let alone the 6.9 million that is needed to get to the 4.5% rate.

What do these numbers mean for the other responders to this question? THey mean that you need to stop making stupid assumtions and pretending that you know anyhting worth knowing!

No they do not come from umemployment insurance numbers.

Each month a poll is conducted. The interviewers ask if the individual has a job. If no, then is the person is asked if s/he is actively looking for a job. If yes, the person is classified as unemployed. Thus, the self employed, homemakers, etc. are not considered unemployed. Other people, such as prisoners and those under age 16 or 15 (I forgot which) are also not treated as unemployed- even if they are not employed and would like to be employed. The size of the work force is estimated in a similar way.

Extapolating the results from the poll, the total number of unemployed individuals is estimated and divided by the estimated size of the workforce. This is the unemployment rate.

Here is a site with more information:

The last two items on this web page are:

Is the count of unemployed persons limited to just those people receiving unemployment insurance benefits?

No; the estimate of unemployment is based on a monthly sample survey of households. All persons who are without jobs and are actively seeking and available to work are included among the unemployed. (People on temporary
layoff are included even if they do not actively seek work.) There is no requirement or question relating to unemployment insurance benefits in the monthly survey.

Does the official unemployment rate exclude people who have stopped looking for work?

Yes; however, there are separate estimates of persons outside the labor force who want a job, including those who have stopped looking because they believe no jobs are available (discouraged workers). In addition, alternative measures of labor underutilization (discouraged workers and other groups not officially counted as unemployed) are published each month in the Employment Situation news release.
Both the answerers Homer J Simpson and the others are right. I don't know who you mean by "they" but if you read past the headline of any article about unemployment they will explain that the stat is coming either from new unemployment claims or surveys or maybe another measure.

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