(ECONOMICS) Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate). Does not include discouraged workers. Also referred to as "headline unemployment" because it is the statistic reported in the news.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly publishes six estimates of unemployment. The others are U-1, U-3, U-4, U-5, and U-6. Eurostat publishes one monthly estimate of unemployment for the European Union, which is approximately midway between U-3 and U-4.
The unemployment statistics for the USA are collected through a monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) (also known as the household survey) and an establishment survey.
U-3 is the official unemployment rate in the USA; it excludes passive jobseekers (people who are just looking for available job openings without applying). Passive jobseekers are counted as part of the labor force in Europe, but not in the USA. Prior to the 2008 economic crisis, this caused unemployment rates in the USA to be about 1% lower than they would have been if the BLS had used European methods of estimating.