North Carolina's jobless rate hovers near all-time high levels using the federal government's broadest measure of unemployment issued Friday.
For the fourth quarter, that measure was 17.4 percent using the U6 index, which includes people who are forced to take part-time jobs and those who have become discouraged and stop looking for work.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics didn't start tracking the U6 index until 2005. It is still obscure and not widely cited, but some say it gives a more accurate picture of joblessness than the more commonly used U3 index, which showed a statewide jobless rate of 9.8 percent for December.
By including more people in the jobless ranks, the U6 index tends to be about 75 percent higher than conventional jobless figures.
The U6 includes the underemployed who take part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work. It also includes the discouraged who can't find work and stop looking.
The U6 index in North Carolina peaked at 17.8 percent in the second quarter of 2010. The index measures joblessness over the previous 12 months, so the most recently issued figure covers Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.
The states with the highest levels of unemployment, as measured by the U6, are Nevada (23.6 percent), California (22.1 percent), Michigan (21 percent) and Oregon (20 percent).
States with the lowest levels are North Dakota (7.4 percent), Nebraska (8.6 percent) and South Dakota (9.7 percent).