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Old 03 February 2015, 10:15 PM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
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Glasses The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment

Here's something that many Americans -- including some of the smartest and most educated among us -- don't know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.
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Old 04 February 2015, 02:19 AM
Steve Steve is offline
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And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class.
This part makes no sense. The main part of the article was about how the unemployment rate is misleading. Maybe it is, but then it's been misleading for quite a while. It was misleading back when we had that middle class that's being hollowed out. We've had that measurement of unemployment in good times and bad. So whatever problems the US economy is facing, the way we measure unemployment isn't it.
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Old 04 February 2015, 03:29 AM
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Amigone201 Amigone201 is offline
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None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you've stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn't count you as unemployed.
Yeah? And if you're cheerfully, happily retired, sitting on a beach in Florida, you don't count either. Nor do you count if you're a full time college student supported by your family. There are lots of reasons that someone may not be looking for work right now. And considering the aging population of the United States...

Yet another figure of importance that doesn't get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words, you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn't count you in the 5.6%.
No, but you're also counted as part of the U6 number. Which is also falling, at an even better rate than the U3 (or "official" unemployment) number.

Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older.
Wow, you're right. That number does sound pretty pathetic.

We need that to be 50% and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America's middle class.
Wait, it only needs to be 6% higher? Six years after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression? Six years, I might add, during which the Republicans gave us nothing but obstructionism, cry baby hissy fits, a government shutdown, and a general lack of any desire to cooperate, fix, or in any way work to improve the economy? And the worst thing you can say is that we're six points below where we should be?

Christ, no wonder you have to call it "staggeringly low." Because if you just threw the numbers out there without any editorializing, it would look pretty darn good, all things considered.

Few Americans know this.
You keep announcing this, and quite smugly, as if you alone had uncovered some kind of Holy Grail. But this article gets written every time the unemployment numbers come out, because the Republicans desperately need the country to stop being so damned cheerful about things, lest we elect another Democrat in 2016. Seriously, I have never seen a group so dedicated to finding a dark cloud in the silver lining.

Besides, if you really need to know that people don't accept the unemployment numbers, read the comments under any news article on the unemployment rate. Especially (if you can hold your nose long enough) on Yahoo News. There you'll find, quite literally, THOUSANDS of people sneeringly dismissing the unemployment numbers for any one of a variety of reasons. Most make no sense, are factually incorrect, or both, but at least Mr. Clifton can take heart in knowing there are plenty of people out there who--like him--need to see Obama fail so desperately that they'll wish ill on the entire country to make it happen.
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Old 04 February 2015, 03:43 AM
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WildaBeast WildaBeast is offline
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Originally Posted by Amigone201 View Post
Yeah? And if you're cheerfully, happily retired, sitting on a beach in Florida, you don't count either.
And, as an economist I heard on NPR once explained, if Paris Hilton wants to do another reality show but no one is offering her one, she counts as unemployed. The unemployment rate isn't meant to be a measure of how much people are suffering, it's just a measure what portion of the labor pool actually has jobs.
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Old 04 February 2015, 04:38 AM
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erwins erwins is offline
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I do seem to recall hearing at some point during the recession and recovery that people were leaving the workforce involuntarily at a high rate due to the length of the recession and slow recovery of jobs. So there was a period of unemployment falling, IIRC, where there were no jobs added.

Going by the official definition, if anyone were tracking me, I would probably have gone back and forth between unemployed and not during the past year. If I hadn't lost my job though, I would never have been a stay at home parent. As it is, I'm looking for work, but now it's much harder because I've been unemployed for so long, and because I can only take something that fits with childcare realities. I was in a very highly specialized job, and there just aren't many to go around. I either need a break for the right opening to come up, or for the labor market to tighten up enough for an employer to take a chance on hiring someone that they would otherwise pass over for a job I don't have direct experience in. So far, that hasn't been happening.

(Except for the job where I had the votes of the hiring committee (7 people) but the person in charge overruled them and hired a guy I know to be an asshat. Those chances don't come around often, so yes, I'm bitter....)

Granted, the unemployment rate is always calculated that way, and so the OP article's point about people not knowing that is stupid. But a better article could perhaps have been written about the degree to which people have been leaving the workforce during the recession and recovery compared to other times, and how much of the unemployment reduction has been due to jobs being added vs people leaving the workforce.

Staying home with my kids has been amazing, but being out of work has also put a lot of strain on my family, and has taken a huge financial toll on us compared to where we would be if I hadn't lost my job.
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Old 04 February 2015, 12:38 PM
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Horse Chestnut Horse Chestnut is offline
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I hear all the time that "unemployment is greatly reduced, but the people aren't feeling it." When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth...
Everything in this article has been discussed again and again over the past 7 years, reported in newspapers and news programs, and even in White House press conference. You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard these figures.

This is the reason Obama has been pushing for a stimulus package that would have included the funds to start infrastructure projects around the country, which would have provided more jobs and middle class wages that are so desperately needed. Too bad the Republicans stonewalled the stimulus plan, along with every other strategy the current administration wanted to use to pump up the economy.

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Old 04 February 2015, 08:29 PM
Onyx_TKD Onyx_TKD is offline
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Dear author, I think what you meant is:
"I just realized that my vaguely-defined gut feeling for what the unemployment rate should represent actually isn't what it measures. To make myself feel less stupid, I'm going to claim that the definition is the one that's wrong and publicly post this for the world to see."
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Old 07 February 2015, 09:27 AM
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wanderwoman wanderwoman is offline
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The latest news ought to make the author of the OP really happy!

The article explains that unemployment is up a bit because the long-term unemployed are looking for work again.
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Old 07 February 2015, 05:31 PM
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Amigone201 Amigone201 is offline
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I can imagine a hypothetical conversation I would have after yesterday's numbers on Yahoo News:

Unemployment is only going down because more people gave up looking for work!

Then you should be thrilled that the number went up one tenth this month.

No! That means we're losing jobs! Nice job, Obummer!

Actually, we created 257,000 jobs last month. And the two months prior were revised up.

Well, they're all minimum wage jobs!

Actually, wages are increasing at the fastest pace in six years. And of the jobs created, 33,000 were professional and technical services. Finance increased by 26,000, health care increased by 38,000, and construction increased by 39,000. Retail increased by the largest at 46,000, but that's not even the majority of jobs created. Let alone ALL jobs created.

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Old 08 February 2015, 12:02 AM
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Mouse Mouse is offline
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Given that the Republicans have decided to oppose anything Obama supports (because if he supports it, it's bad) and support anything he opposes (if he opposes it, it's good) yeah, I find myself wishing Obama would take this thinking to its logical extreme as a means of screwing with his opponents. C'mon, Obama, make a televised speech were you say breathing in Carbon Monoxide gas is bad and no one should do it, I dare you. Sad part is it might be the only way to get any work done in this country.
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Old 08 February 2015, 01:59 PM
Samwise Z Samwise Z is offline
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Just to note: these "criticisms" of the measure of unemployment rate have been around for at least 30-ish years. I remember them being discussed in the 1980s.
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Old 18 June 2016, 06:04 PM
FactJunky FactJunky is offline
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Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
Here's something that many Americans -- including some of the smartest and most educated among us -- don't know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.
It's only misleading because it's misinterpreted. The U-6 numbers are published really for businesses who are looking to make financial decisions. In that context it makes a little more sense. However, the easy availability of this number also makes it easy to publish so this is what is broadcasted, especially by politicians who know it looks better for them than using,say U-9 numbers.
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