This study provides an overview of the concepts used to measure unemployment in Indonesia and their consequences for the measured unemployment trends. One finding shows that BPS’s decision in 2001 to relax the definition of labor force by including discouraged workers has resulted in an artificially high open unemployment rate and disguises the actual decline in traditionally-measured open unemployment rates post-crisis. Another finding indicates that discouraged workers in Indonesia are not confined only to the poor and those who are denied access to the proper job market. We recommend that, if Indonesia still wants to utilize a broader definition of the labor force, the measurement of open unemployment should adhere to the ILO’s recommendation of only including those discouraged workers who are still willing to work. The discouraged workers who are unwilling to work should be left in the “out of labor force” category.
Keywords: discouraged workers; open unemployment; measurement; Indonesia.