The official government unemployment rate hangs at around 8%; however many people disagree and claim unemployment is closer to between 15% and 23%.
Many people do not realize that unemployment as defined by the Government is very narrow. Unemployment, by Government measure, occurs when people are without work and actively seeking work. This number does not include those that have given up on looking for work (i.e., Moms just decide to stay at home, people who go back to school, etc.) or those individuals who are underemployed.
When you take these factors into account I think the higher numbers are probably more accurate.
The seasonally-adjusted SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate reflects current unemployment reporting methodology adjusted for SGS-estimated long-term discouraged workers, who were defined out of official existence in 1994. That estimate is added to the BLS estimate of U-6 unemployment, which includes short-term discouraged workers.
The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.