Dec 6, 2021 - News

Report pegs Philly's "true" unemployment rate

Data: Ludwig Institute; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Unemployment in the Philadelphia metro area is hovering at about 5%, the lowest it's been since before the pandemic, according to latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • It's a major improvement from the 15% rate BLS reported in April of 2020, right after major coronavirus-driven shutdowns.

Yes, but: One analysis suggests unemployment in the metro is much higher — and that the "true" number of people who were jobless during the height of the pandemic was around 28.3%.

How it works: The Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity's analysis uses BLS figures and factors in those out of work as well as those who are employed but earning less than a living wage.

  • The institute uses $20,000 as the liveable threshold, a conservative estimate.
  • To compare, the government's individual poverty level threshold is $12,760.

By the numbers: Metro Philly's "true" unemployment increased by 5% between 2019 and 2020.

  • Last year's "true" unemployment rate balloons to 54.3% when you add in 16 and 17 year-olds and people working part-time but trying to get full-time work. The institute refers to this as the "True Rate of Unemployment Out of Population (TROOP)."

Of note: This data is for 2020, and 2021 figures won't be available until next fall.

Read the full report.

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