Many people view the U.S. unemployment rate with cynicism. What people regularly see on the U.S. National News does not fully represent those people that are "marginally attached workers" or "employed part time for economic reasons."
(NY job seekers in line)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines marginally attached workers as persons who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want or are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the recent past. BLS defines persons employed part time for economic reasons as those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.
In October 2008 the BLS stated that the U-3 unemployment rate was 6.5%, up from 6.1% in September. The unemployment rate which combines the regularly publicized rate with both those who are "marginally attached workers" and "employed part time for economic reasons" was 11.1% in October 2008, up from 7.9% in October 2007. This composite rate is coded as U-6 in the following hyperlinked BLS table.
The BLS table shows both "not seasonally adjusted" and "seasonally adjusted" unemployment rates. Basically, the seasonally adjusted number attempts to smooth out seasonal variations in unemployment throughout the year.