May 6, 2024 - News

San Diego's "true" unemployment rate

A bar chart showing the U.S. metro areas with the highest and lowest True Rate of Unemployment in 2023. The measure shows the share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage).
Note: Note: Share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage); Data: Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity; Chart: Axios Visuals

San Diego's true unemployment rate last year was 22.4%, compared to its official rate of 4.4%, according to a study from the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity.

Why it matters: The new dataset highlights the true spectrum of inequality in major metro areas, capturing anyone who wants but cannot find a full-time job with a living wage.

Big picture: San Diego is below the nationwide true unemployment level of 23% but above fast-growing metro areas like Denver (15.5%), Nashville, Tennessee (16.3%) and Dallas (19.8%).

How it works: The think tank's proprietary system measures everyone in a metro's workforce who is looking for a job working 35+ hours per week and earning more than $25,000 per year but can't find one.

  • The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, meanwhile, excludes from its unemployment rate anyone who has stopped looking for work or who has a gig earning relatively little per week.
  • The two figures tend to trend alongside each other.
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