The "unemployment" rate – calculated by dividing unemployment benefits claims by the size of the population thought to be seeking work – has long been regarded as an understated metric for true unemployment. Today, a non-participation measurement suggests that fewer than 70% of working-age males in the United States are even trying to work. About seven million non-participants of either gender – who are not part of the "unemployed" measured in the unemployment rate – desire work. A recent chart showing the graduation of the "unemployed" into the ranks of the "not even bothering to look" shows a sharp rise since the end of 2008.
While some working-age people are non-participants because they are full-time students, some unemployed people conclude that if they can't get work with their current credentials they need to go back to school.
The overall workforce participation rate is currently 63.5%, the lowest since 1981. The male participation rate (now 69.8%) is the lowest on record.