Saturday 10 January 2004

The Unemployed

I have seen headlines that are trumpeting the new unemployed statistics. Unemployment stands at 5.9% officially. What does that mean? Well there is some magical number of people who are earning a paycheck and there is another number of those who are getting unemployment checks. If you don't get an unemployment check then you are not unemployed. Isn't that neat? Congress did not extend unemployment benefits soooo not so many people getting unemployment checks result less unemployed people. QED

Ok the real skinny on who is unemployed, it is done by a survey of 66,000 households based in 792 geographical areas of the United States. 72,000 households are contacted/selected but only about 60,000 actually provide data for various reasons. To be counted as unemployed you must not be working you must have actively sought work in the past 4 weeks, this means sent out a resume or filled out a job application. If there were no jobs in your area you were qualified to apply for well then you are not "unemployed" you have to be actively looking for work. If you are a discouraged worker you are lumped as "not in the work force" if we are generous we can add .7% to the unemployment figures to include the marginally attached. If you select more than 1 race you will not be counted So in our country there are currently around 8 Million unemployed persons (that are being counted) last month we had a net of 1000 new jobs created so for every new job we had aproximately 8000 job applicants. This is known as an economic recovery. Of all the people out of work and counted as unemployed a large number recieve no unemployment benefit. Our National Unemplyment rate is measured at 5.9% (6.6% if you add in the marginal workers, discouraged etc) of that number, the percentage recieving UI is 2.9 % something less than half of the Unemployed get unemployment insurance. This will be dropping quite a bit over the next weeks and months as the Federal UI extensions are running out.

Combine this with President Bush's assault on wages matching every job we cannot send to India with an economic migrant and you have a recipie for some powerful populist backlash. The economy may be better but orders for durable goods is down in November and December that doesn't bode well for American manufacturers. The tax cut fueled recovery just might be dying. Here come the interest rates folks! We have forgotten what double digit Prime Rates will do to consumenr debt which is at an all time high.

Posted by Philip at Saturday 10 January 2004 | TrackBack

So what do they call all those people with no income at all? Suckers?

Posted by: marijo at January 10, 2004 08:44 PM


"If you don't get an unemployment check then you are not unemployed."

And if you are employed you are not an illegal alien. You are a future Republican.

Posted by: Jack at January 11, 2004 08:18 PM


I remember something about the methods of collecting unemployment data being very different in different nations. Does anyone know? That is, besides the fact that we count only those who get benefits. The European Union nations don't do that, I believe. But what do they count?

I can't sleep until I know!

Posted by: Jill at January 12, 2004 11:09 AM


Apparently I am a Canadian-to-be since I don't exist. Identifying as more than one race and being unemployed for 18+ months...hmm. I guess I'm not surprised that I'm counted among the "discouraged workers" by virtue of my length of tenure, but to find out they never counted me because of my racial makeup? Wonderful.

Unemployment *here* in this part of Michigan is still close to 12% using the government's crappy criteria. Can't even begin to imagine what the REAL unemployment rate might be. Recovery? what recovery?

Posted by: Rayne at January 12, 2004 02:11 PM


Rayne: I was blown away that if you call yourself a mixed race person (actually encouraged in today's PC polling) you are not counted but note 2 of the table explicitly states that people who select multiple races will not be counted in the survey. Because they track employment by race you have to be black, white, or asian. I guess they don't like it if you are Amerind (Native American) or if you are Polynesian (nobody unemployed in American Samoa). Also if you live on a farm you may not be unemployed if you work 15 hours a week or more on the farm. Doesn't matter if you are an electronic engineer you live on a farm so you have to be a farmer. Sheesh even hobby farms require more than 15 hours a week.

The "uncounted" may be half again the unemployed I don't by the additional .7% of discouraged and marginalized workers. And we haven't even considered the underemployed. I understand the only way we got 1000 new jobs in December was a change in the jobs claimed in November. This creating the 1000 new jobs, wow I am impressed. Michigan lost over 20,000 jobs in December ouch!

Posted by: Philip at January 12, 2004 02:29 PM