One sign of the severity of the economic downturn that is not captured in official unemployment data is the underemployment rate, an indicator that measures the broad group of people who have been unable to find full-time work and are either working part-time or not at all. While the current nationwide unemployment rate is 9.8%, the underemployment rate is 17%, meaning that more than 26.5 million people about one in six workers cannot find the amount of work they want. The underemployment figure encompasses three groups of workers: the unemployed; involuntarily part-time workers who want full-time work but have had to settle for part-time hours; and workers described as marginally attached, who want and are available for a job, but have given up actively looking. The ranks of the marginally attached typically increase during economic downturns as slim job prospects lead more of the unemployed to give up looking.
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