Dec 1, 2021 - News

D.C.’s real unemployment rate is higher than you'd think

A long table with a variety of papers. The closest one reads "looking for a job?"
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The D.C. metro’s unemployment rate is 4.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • But, according to Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity analysis, the true unemployment rate, which includes those who are employed in a position earning less than a living wage, is much higher. 

Of note: The institute defines a living wage as $20,000 a year before taxes.

Data: Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios. Note: The map shows the change in the measure of the “True Rate of Unemployment Out of Population," which includes 16- and 17-year-olds and part-time workers looking for full-time work.

Why it matters: When we look at unemployment, we don't often think about the people who are underemployed or who don't make a livable wage.

By the numbers: The Ludwig Institute says 20.3% of D.C. metro residents fall into that category.

The number jumps to 49.7% when you add in 16- and 17-year-olds and people working part time but trying to get full-time work — which the institute refers to as the “True Rate of Unemployment Out of the Population."

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