Types of Unemployment

In order for workers to be classified as unemployed, they cannot currently be employed and they must be actively searching for work. In its simplest form, this definition of unemployment may hide some of the realities of people who are given up looking for work or people who are currently working part time, but would like to work more. The simplest definition of unemployment, known as the U-3 rate, also doesn't distringuish the reason that people are unemployment.

In this scene, Billy Beane and coach Ron Washington go to see Scott Hadeberg about playing for the Oakland As. Hadeberg is not currently employed by any team in Major League Baseball, but he is interested in playing again. Hadeberg used to play catcher, but he know longer possesses the skills required to play that position. Beane would like Hadeberg to move to first base instead:

Worksheet Activity
(Download the handout)

The unemployment rate is one of the most popular economic indicators discussed in the media on a regular basis. The Census Burearu, however, can't ask every American their current status so instead they have to perform surveys. In this activity, your students will assume the role of a BLS surveyer and determine whether people in the Oakland A's area are employed, unemployed, or not part of the labor force. All of the characters are fictiontional, but still realistic. 

Ask students to work in pairs to complete the attached handout. The first page contains a list of fictional people who need to be classified and the second page contains an answer key for the instructor. When everyone is done with their handout, review the correct answers with the class. Have students calculate the unemployment rate and employment-population ratio for their survey group.


Your students may have had trouble classifying a few of our workers because of the shortcomings of how the unemployment rate is officially calculated. Have students consider whether some of the respondents could be considered discouraged or underemployed workers instead.

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