Unemployment (or joblessness) occurs when people are without work and actively seeking work. The unemployment rate is a measure of the prevalence of unemployment and it is calculated as a percentage by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by all individuals currently in the labor force. During periods of recession, an economy usually experiences a relatively high unemployment rate. In a 2011 news story, BusinessWeek reported, "More than 200 million people globally are out of work, a record high, as almost two-thirds of advanced economies and half of developing countries are experiencing a slowdown in employment growth". Because unemployment plays such an important role in shaping our perceptions of the economy, experts have long raised concerns about the way the government defines the term. The basic unemployment rate today measures the number of unemployed workers as a percentage of the total civilian labor force; the labor force in turn is defined as those who reported that they were employed in a given month's Current Population Survey, plus those who did not work in the week about which the CPS inquired (but who did actively search for a job at some point in the previous four weeks and could begin work if offered a job). Some labor economists argue that this definition overstates unemployment, because its criteria for "actively searching for a job" are exceedingly loose. These criteria count, for instance, a single casual conversation with a friend asking if he knows of a job opening, or any time at all spent editing a résumé, as actively looking for work. No distinction is drawn between someone who visits dozens of potential employers and follows up with phone calls and someone who changes the font on a cover letter and never sends it anywhere. Others, meanwhile, worry that the definition actually understates unemployment. The concern is that the criteria for being "unemployed" exclude people who might want to work but who have not...
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