Federal jobless data issued this morning shows that North Carolina's unemployment rate has reached an all-time high using the government's most comprehensive measure.
The state's jobless rate was 17.9 percent in the third quarter, according to the so-called U6 index issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The previous high was 17.8 percent, set last year.
The U6 index includes people who are not counted in the more commonly cited jobless measure, the U3, which shows a 10.5 percent jobless rate for the third quarter.
The U6 was not tracked until 2005 and is still relatively obscure. Because it takes a broader view of unemployment, some consider the U6 index a more accurate picture of the national and regional economic situation. The U6 rate generally tends to be about 75 percent higher than the standard measure of unemployment, or U3 index.
The U6 index counts people who are forced to take part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work and people who have given up looking for work because even though they want a job.
The data released today show 479,000 people unemployed in North Carolina during the third quarter, including 272,000 who are classified as "involuntary part-time" and 36,400 classified as "discouraged."
Nationwide, the U6 showed a U.S. jobless rate of 16.2 percent in the third quarter, compared to the standard rate of 9.2 percent.
Nine states had higher jobless rates as measured by the U6 index, including Nevada (23.3 percent) and California (21.6 percent).
The lowest U6 jobless rates were North Dakota (7 percent) and Nebraska (8.4 percent).
The BLS calculates the U6 every quarter as an average over the previous 12 months. The update issued this morning covers one year through Sept. 30.