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Unemployment is the percentage of the civilian labor force, age 16 and older, that is unemployed but seeking work.
The unemployed population experiences worse health and higher mortality rates than the employed population.[1,2] Unemployment has been shown to lead to an increase in unhealthy behaviors related to alcohol and tobacco consumption, diet, exercise, and other health-related behaviors, which in turn can lead to increased risk for disease or mortality, especially suicide. Because employer-sponsored health insurance is the most common source of health insurance coverage, unemployment can also limit access to health care.
Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data are readily available and reliably cover 99.9% of US counties. Some analysts find this official unemployment measure flawed because individuals who want work but who have given up seeking work (discouraged workers) are not counted as officially unemployed. Discouraged workers can comprise a significant enough percentage of the total population to skew unemployment figures. None of the measures reliably discerns the unemployed who cannot find work at their preferred wage level from those who cannot find work at any wage.
The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics produces monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data for Census regions and divisions, states, counties, metropolitan areas, and many cities by place of residence. The LAUS estimates are consistent with the national labor force and unemployment measures from the Current Population Survey. A number of different methods are used to produce these estimates, including: (1) a signal-plus-noise time-series model for states, the District of Columbia, and some substate areas; (2) a building block approach referred to as the Handbook procedure for labor market areas; and (3) disaggregation procedures for many counties and virtually all cities.
You can find data on unemployed workers by gender, race and educational attainment on Community Commons.
 Egerter S, Braveman P, Sadegh-Nobari T, Grossman-Kahn R, Dekker M. Education Matters for Health. Princeton, NJ: RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America; 2009. Issue Brief 6.  Bartley M, Plewis I. Accumulated labour market disadvantage and limiting long-term illness: Data from the 1971-1991 Office for National Statistics' Longitudinal Study. Int J Epidemiol. 2002;31:336-341.  Dooley D, Fielding J, Levi L. Health and unemployment. Annu Rev Public Health. 1996;17:449-465.
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