In the United States, the definition of “employed” is fairly liberal. To be classified as employed, it is sufficient to have done any work for pay or profit in the previous week. People may even be counted as employed if they did not work during the week—for example, if they were on vacation, out sick, on maternity/paternity leave, or unable to work because of bad weather. In this chapter, we explore differences in unemployment in the United States and Europe. To do this properly, we need to take care that unemployment is measured in a similar way within the sample of countries. The European Commission defines as unemployed those aged 15 to 74
who were without work during the reference week, but currently available for work, who were either actively seeking work in the past four weeks or who had already found a job to start within the next three months. 
As in the United States, the unemployment rate is the number of people unemployed as a percentage of the labor force, and the labor force is the total number of people employed and unemployed. The European Commission defines as employed those aged 15 to 74
who during the reference week performed work, even for just one hour a week, for pay, profit or family gain, were not at work but had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent because of, e.g., illness, holidays, industrial dispute or education and training. 
These descriptions reveal that the definitions used in Europe are broadly similar to those in the United States, meaning that we can legitimately compare employment and unemployment rates in the two regions. National and local governments help people cope with the risk that they might lose their jobs. In the United States and many other countries, unemployed people are typically eligible to receive payments from the government, called unemployment insurance, for some period of time after losing their jobs. Some governments help the unemployed find jobs and may even provide financial support to help people retrain and obtain marketable skills.