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Why the Government’s Unemployment Rate is Dangerously Deceptive – And the Dark Reality it Hides

The following post comes to us from Les Leopold, author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It. It appeared originally on the web at Alternet.org.

I’m here to confirm everyone’s gut sense that the way the government measures unemployment is a lie, and it matters.

The latest statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate the unemployment rate is 8.9 percent and the economy added 192,000 jobs in February. Yes, that’s better than a year ago when the rate peaked at 10.4 percent and we lost 35,000 jobs.

But there are two big problems with those numbers:

First let’s look more closely at the 192,000 new jobs that were created last month. It’s seems like a good looking number – like filling up two big football stadiums with people and giving them all jobs. But not quite. We need about 100,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. That means we can only move toward full employment if the economy creates many more than 100,000 new jobs a month. So in effect, one of those football stadiums each month is mostly filled with young people just coming into the labor force. And the other football stadium in February seats the 92,000 unemployed folks who actually found new jobs.

The pathetic pace of job creation
Since November when jobs growth started again, the economy has added an average of 136,000 jobs a month. Take out the 100,000 for new workers and it means we’re gaining ground on full-employment at only 36,000 jobs a month.

How far do we have to go? Using the most conservative numbers, we’re still down 7.5 million jobs since December 2007, when the Wall Street crash really started wrecking the rest of the economy. Do the math. Divide 7.5 million jobs lost by 36,000 per month of net new job growth and you get a little over 208 months or 17.4 years until we get back to pre-crash levels. That’s an entire generation! And that assumes we won’t have another recession or Wall Street crash. Fat chance.

But the darkest data buried in the BLS statistics, and in numbers the media tends to ignore because they don’t understand them –and they are numbers that are truly frightening– have to do with the long-term unemployed and the people who have given up looking for work.

Continue reading this article at Alternet.

Les Leopold’s The Looting of America is available now.


A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do

What’s next for the majority of voters who didn’t vote for Donald Trump? There are plenty of takeaways from the 2016 presidential election, but here is perhaps the most thorough examination of why the polls failed, why Hillary Clinton’s campaign failed, and what the majority of voters can do going forward. George Lakoff is the […] Read More

Prehistory of the Next American Revolution

What now? A new Revolution? If we are to counter the dangers both of corporate domination and of traditional forms of socialist statism, decentralization is essential—both of economic institutions and of political structure. We are at a point in our nation’s history that could, decades from now, be taught as the prehistory of the next […] Read More

The Seven-Point Protocol for a Lean Economy

In the future, what will our local economies look like? How will they function if there is little, to no, state or national support? The late David Fleming envisioned a post-capitalistic society that we could call “deep local” — in which all needs are met at the local level — from income to social capital […] Read More

Happy Holidays from Chelsea Green Publishing!

Today we kick off our Holiday Sale — with 35% off every purchase at our online bookstore. Simply use the code CGS16 at checkout from now until the end of the year. Along with this great discount, we are offering free shipping on any order over $100*. Are there homesteaders or organic gardeners on your […] Read More

You won’t have a revolution if you don’t ask for one. So, what are you waiting for?

Get ready for the era of Big Organizing. In Rules for Revolutionaries, authors Becky Bond and Zack Exley lay out the 22 Rules the fueled the Bernie Sanders campaign and which provide a way forward for activists looking for ways to move forward post-Election Day. This model, which the authors call “Big Organizing” is the […] Read More
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