Lies, Damned Lies, and Unemployment Statistics

Before Democrats, the Obama Administration, liberals, and progressives start crowing about the updated unemployment figures—which the Bureau of Labor Statistics say is now down to 8.6%—there’s something you should know about the why it is down—and it’s not pretty.

The BLS divides up the unemployment numbers into six figures, U-1 through U-6. U-3 is the “official” number, the one that’s always toted on the primetime news channels. U-6, however, is the real unemployment figure, which counts marginally attached workers (those that have stopped looking for work for the time being) and underemployed workers (those working part time but want full time work), among others. And the worst part is?

Even that is rosy compared to the “real truth.”

The truth comes in near the middle of the Bureau’s press release:

In November, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs declined by 432,000 to 7.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted for 43.0 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)

The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 64.0 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.(See table A-1.)

Emphasis mine.

What means is that people aren’t just pausing in job hunting; they’re actually giving up job hunting. What the figures tell us is not that more people have found jobs, but there is a lower number of people going around actually looking for them. Steve Eggleston over at Hot Air has calculated that’s over 315,000 workers who dropped out of the labor force in November. Zero Hedge has even worse numbers: the number of people saying “I want a job now” has risen to 6.595 million. That’s near-as-makes-no-difference 6.6 million Americans saying that want a job but don’t have one, and not all of them are counted as “in the labor force.” That number better decrease by 2-2.5 million come Election Day next November, or Obama will have a snowball’s chance in hell (or, for some of my geeky friends, an ice cube’s chance on Tatooine) of winning.

What are these people doing? Who knows. (Maybe they’re following Samuel Edward Konkin III’s agorism idea.) But what it does mean is that the economy is getting steadily worse, government spin notwithstanding. Meanwhile, all that stimulus money thrown around has really done nothing to help anyone, aside from fat cat bankers.

For an administration that came into office on a foundation of “Hope” and “Change,” this is a very bad thing.


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