How to Calculate the Employment and Unemployment Number if Only the Labor Force Is Given

News networks publicize any changes to the unemployment rate and state and federal government organizations publish the employment and unemployment rates in the 50 states and in the United States. These mediums allow you keep current on the unemployment rate. If you ever encounter data that publishes only the characteristics of the labor force and does not indicate the employment and unemployment percentages, you can use that data to calculate the employment and unemployment rates.

Determine the total amount of people in the labor force for your specific region or country of interest. The labor force equals the total number of employed and unemployed people in that region or country. Unemployed people are defined as people who do not have a job, but are actively seeking employment. If a person has not actively sought employment in the past four weeks, she is considered a discouraged worker and she is not considered part of the labor force. Discouraged workers are, however, marginally attached to the labor force because they have looked for work in the past 12 months, and if a discouraged worker began searching for a job again, she would rejoin the labor force as unemployed. Retired people, children, students and those who have no desire to work are also not in the labor force.

Determine the number of employed people in your region or country of interest. Examine the labor force data and find the total number of employed people. Employed people include those from all occupations and all statuses, such as full-time workers, part-time workers, self-employed workers and salaried employees.

Divide the total number of employed people by the total amount of people in the labor force to obtain your region's employment rate. Use the following example for reference: in July of 2011, the United States had 139.3 million employed people and 153.2 million people in its labor force, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, 139.3 million / 153.2 million = a 90.9 percent employment rate. This number signifies that in July of 2011, 90.9 percent of citizens who were ready and willing to work were working.

Determine the total number of unemployed people in your country or region.

Divide the total number of unemployed people by the total amount of people in the labor force to obtain your region's unemployment rate. Use the following example for reference: in July of 2011, the United States had 13.9 million unemployed people and 153.2 million people in its labor force, according to the BLS. So, 13.9 million / 153.2 million = a 9.1 percent unemployment rate. This unemployment rate signifies that in July of 2011, over 9 percent of citizens who were actively looking for a job could not find work.

Tips

  • Compare your region's employment and unemployment rates with other regions to see how high your region's unemployment rate is relative to nearby regions.

Warnings

  • Double check your calculations.

References

About the Author

E.M. Rawes is a professional writer specializing in business, finance, mathematical and social sciences topics. She completed her studies at the University of Maryland, where she earned her Bachelor of Science. During her time working in workforce management and as a financial analyst, she reinforced her business and financial know-how.