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Real Unemployment

Howdy folks,

Many of us have known the gov't figures are bad and getting worse but I didn't think it was this bad.

and so it goes,

peace and wear the damn mask,



  • Has a lot in common with government figures on real inflation. Maybe the real employment figures are also suffering from unreported inflation.
  • msf
    edited October 14
    Books, cooked books, and lies. By everyone.

    If someone holds two jobs (4.9% of workers in 2017), neither job is likely over 35 hours/week. According to the "True" (nice rhetoric) Rate of Unemployment ("TRU") calculation, these workers may be counted as unemployed.

    If you want to talk about underemployed, that's fine. But calling the underemployed unemployed is just as deceptive as the government excluding all people not actively looking for work from the labor force figure.
    "I was shocked," [Gene Ludwig, a former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency] tells Axios on HBO, "that a quarter of the population that want work can't earn a living wage."
    The 1/4 (23.4%) figure he's referring to includes people making good money working 30 hours a week. More distortions from the person who created this metric.
    TRU tracks the percentage of the U.S. labor force that
    does not have a full-time job (35+ hours a week) but wants one, [or]
    has no job, or
    does not earn a living wage, conservatively pegged at $20,000 annually before taxes.
    The TRU figure 23.4% doesn't mean that 1/4 of people that want work are not earning a living wage. It says that if you add those who don't make a living wage to those who are underemployed (working less than 35 hours but wanting more), you get 1/4.

    Axios complains that "By restricting the 'unemployed' label to men who 'really want employment,' Wright managed to minimize the unemployment figure." What Axios doesn't say is that not only does BLS reduce its potential labor force figure by excluding discouraged (non-jobseeking) workers, but that the TRU unemployment percentage is calculated using the same potential labor force figure. (Here's a recent post I made in part discussing the labor participation rate.)

    What TRU does is repartition this figure between employed and unemployed, counting more people as unemployed, thus coming up with a higher unemployment figure than does BLS.

    (The 54.6% figure does count these people, as it counts all people over age 16. But that means that retirees, having no jobs, are also counted as unemployed. That's something else Axios doesn't mention.)

    The numbers may be eyecatching, but IMHO they're at least as bad as the government figures. The BLS publishes underemployment numbers. The TRU calculation calls everyone unemployed, sweeping such distinctions under the rug as it promulgates inflated figures.

    I agree that one should look carefully at what the BLS figures represent. But apply the same scrutiny to "alternative" figures as well.
  • For sure.
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