Dec 6, 2021 - News

Report pegs Philly's "true" unemployment rate

Change in metro area true unemployment rates
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.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more