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The unemployment rate is one part of the comprehensive labor data available and issued through economic study. The most watched employment numbers in the United States come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which regularly produces employment data through examination of weekly jobless claims. There is debate over how accurate the unemployment rate is, as the study does not include individuals that, due to extreme difficulty in finding employment, have taken themselves out of the active job market.

This employment data is used by private employers to predict talent availability, consumer demand, and to forecast economic strength or weakness. The stock market reacts to the unemployment rate mostly due to its effect on consumer sentiment and expected demand for goods and services. It is also used by economists, legal scholars, and social scientists to analyze and predict large demographic shifts, pay inequalities, and job trends, as the information is usually accompanied by a wealth of demographic and geographic data.