Friday, August 07, 2009

The Real Unemployment Rate?

Today the administration is rejoicing, incredibly enough, at an unemployment report for July that shows that "only" 247,000 jobs were lost.

As one administration "economist" told Fox News, "it's the least worst day we've seen in a long time."

I guess that's one way to look at it. The official jobless number is 9.4 percent, one-tenth of a point better than June.

What the media is not reporting is that nearly 800,000 "workers" were take off the official roles to reduce the overall number of the workforce. These "discouraged" workers who have given up looking, the government continues to insist, should not count. As Reuters helpfully explains:
In the U.S., for the purpose of calculating the unemployment rate, the labor force is defined as those with a job plus those out of a job but actively looking for work.
If this statistical adjustment had not been made, the unemployment rate would be 9.9 percent. (It's nice to know that all those stimulus funded "shovel ready" jobs are out there providing encouragement to those long-term laid off workers, right?)

This isn't a new tactic. The Clinton and Bush administrations used the same fudge factors to make the economy look better. Only this administration is ramping it up to a new level.

If you add all the people who have been dropped from the list over the years back into the workforce, the unemployment percentage would be truly staggering.

So go if you are in a partying mood, go ahead and have your little soiree. Never mind that the total number of Americans with a job significantly declined, again, and that those seeking unemployment benefits have not decreased in number.



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