Jason Fichtner from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University sent in this stacked area chart (Excel file here).

“This chart provides a comparison of the different measurements of the unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It includes new data on the official and alternative unemployment measurements for the 2012 and 2013. Data from the BLS is used to assess labor market conditions from several perspectives.

The most commonly reported unemployment rate – 7.0% in November 2013 – includes the number of people without jobs who are available to work and are actively seeking work in the four weeks preceding the survey as a percentage of the labor force (the sum of employed and unemployed persons in the economy). While this official unemployment rate remains the primary measure of labor market performance, there are reasons to believe that it is not the most realistic representation of the current state of the economy.

The limited picture that the official unemployment rate paints is readily apparent when compared to alternative measures of unemployment. The chart displays the official unemployment rate, or U3 unemployment rate, alongside various alternative measures from 2005 to the most recent data in November 2013. These alternative measures provide more holistic depictions of the general state of the labor market.

I think the chart displays an accurate description of what is going on. However, is there a better way to visually present this data so that it’s more eye-catching and/or more informative?”