© Marcel Crozet / ILO

Statistics on unemployment and labour underutilization

Table of Contents

Introduction

The unemployment rate is probably the best-known labour market measure and is certainly one of the most widely quoted by the media. The unemployment rate is a useful measure of the underutilization of the labour supply. It reflects the inability of an economy to generate employment for those persons who want to work but are not doing so, even though they are available for employment and actively seeking work.

Other measures of labour underutilization recognized in the international statistical standards are time-related underemployment and the potential labour force.

Data catalogue

Methods

The jobs gap: Measuring labour underutilisation beyond unemployment

This issue of Spolight on Work Statistics discusses an indicator recently developed by the ILO – the jobs gap – which is shown to be an important complement to the unemployment rate. The indicator is particularly relevant to assess the difficulties that women face in finding a job and highlights job creation challenges in the developing world.

Quick guide on interpreting the unemployment rate

The unemployment rate is a key labour market indicator, but it has many shortcomings which we must take into account when interpreting it. The Quick guide on interpreting the unemployment rate provides helpful information on all the main aspects underlying this headline indicator and its limitations. It also provides tips to communicate effectively on the unemployment rate.

Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Guidebook on SDG Labour Market Indicators

This Guidebook provides a detailed overview of the labour market indicators included in the Sustainable Development Goals Global Indicator Framework. It is intended to serve as a manual of best practices for calculating and interpreting the SDG labour market indicators, with a view to monitoring progress made at the national and international levels towards the achievement of the SDGs.

Key Labor Market Indicators: Analysis with Household Survey Data

This publication is an introduction to labour market indicator analysis and a guide for analysing household survey data using the ADePT ILO Labour Market Indicators Module. The ADePT module is a powerful tool for producing and analysing KILM indicators using household survey data. The software allows researchers and practitioners to automate data production, to minimize data production errors and to quickly produce a wide range of labour market data from labour force surveys or other household surveys that contain labour market information.

Resolution concerning statistics of work, employment and labour underutilization (including amendments)

Adopted by the 19th ICLS (2013), this resolution sets standards for work statistics to guide countries in updating and integrating their existing statistical programmes in this field. It defines the statistical concept of work for reference purposes and provides operational concepts, definitions and guidelines for: (a) distinct subsets of work activities, referred to as forms of work; (b) related classifications of the population according to their labour force status and main form of work; (c) measures of labour underutilization.

Sources and Methods Volume 3A: Household surveys (2004) – Economically active population, employment, unemployment and hours of work

This volume presents national methodological descriptions of statistics of employment, unemployment, underemployment, hours of work and other indicators derived from labour force and household surveys, disseminated on ILOSTAT. It is a revised and updated version of the second edition issued in 1990. This third edition contains descriptions for 83 countries.

Publications

Note: Many publications are available only in English. If available in other languages, a new page will open displaying the options on the right. 

Persons outside the labour force: How inactive are they really?

Inactivity rates are increasing around the world, while the global population and labour force are ageing. But the inactivity rate is an aggregate measure overlooking the different profiles of people outside the labour force. This Spotlight on Work Statistics explores the characteristics of the potential labour force, made up of persons outside the labour force with an attachment to the labour market.

Avoiding unemployment is not enough

Discover the patterns around the world of unemployment and other forms of labour underutilization, including time-related underemployment, the potential labour force and over-education in the fourth issue of our series Spotlight on Work Statistics.

What about seniors?

Learn about the situation of older persons in the labour market in this brief, the first issue of our new series Spotlight on work statistics where we use ILOSTAT data to explore various labour market issues.

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